“A splendid night,” said Dalton.
“Yes, truly,” said Harry.
“I hope you didn’t propose to more than six girls.”
“To none. But I love them all together.”
“I’m glad to hear it, because you’re entirely too young to marry, and your occupation is precarious.”
“You needn’t be so preachy. You’re not more’n a hundred years old yourself.”
“But I’m two months older than you are and often two months makes a vast difference, particularly in our cases. I notice about you, Harry, at times, a certain juvenility which I feel it my duty to repress.”
“Don’t do it, George. Let’s enjoy it while we can, because as you say my occupation is precarious and yours is the same.”
They stopped at the corner of the iron fence enclosing the Curtis home, in which many lights were still shining. It was near a dark alley opening on the street and running by this side of the house.
“I’m going to see what’s behind Mr. Curtis’s house,” said Harry.
Dalton stared at him.
“What’s got into your head, Harry!” he exclaimed. “Do you mean to be a burglar prowling about the home of the man who has entertained you?”
Harry hesitated. He was sorry that Dalton was with him. Then he could have gone on without question, but he must make some excuse to Dalton.
“George,” he said at last, “will you swear to keep a secret, a most important one which I am pledged to tell to nobody, but which I must confide in you in order to give a good reason for what I am about to do.”
“If you are pledged to keep such a secret,” replied Dalton, “then don’t explain it to me. Your word is good enough, Harry. Go ahead and do what you want to do. I’ll ask nothing about any of your actions, no matter how strange it may look.”
“You’re a man in a million, George. Come on, your confidence is going to be tested. Besides, you’ll run the danger of being shot.”
But Dalton followed him fearlessly as he led the way down the alley. Richmond was not lighted then, save along the main streets, and a few steps took them into the full dark. The brilliant windows threw bright bands across the lines, but they themselves were in darkness.
The alley ran through the next street and so did the Curtis grounds. They were as extensive in the rear of the house as in front, and contained small pines carefully trimmed, banks of roses and two grape arbors. Harry could hear no sound of any one stirring among them, but people, obviously the cooks and other servants, were talking in the big kitchen at the rear of the house.
The street itself running in the rear of the building was as well lighted as it was in front, but Harry saw no one in it save a member of the city police, who seemed to be keeping a good watch. But as he did not wish to be observed by the man he waited a little while in the mouth of the alley, until he had moved on and was out of sight.