“I owe nearly a hundred thousand,” said Wilmot.
“I’ve been worse stung,” said Blizzard.
“Where the devil do you get all your money, Blizzard?”
“I’ve lived for money and power. I’ve been lucky, clever—and unscrupulous.”
“I like your frankness. But you are not letting me in for anything rotten?”
“Your Revolutionary ancestors fought against just such forces as you are to fight against—unjust taxation, abuse of power, and corruption in high places. Are you going to serve?”
“I’m going it pretty blind, but I think so. I like the idea of fighting. I like the idea of paying my debts. And at times I think a bullet in the head would be a matter for self-congratulation.”
“That,” said Blizzard, “is the feeling of two classes of young men—those who are tangled up with women and those who aren’t.”
Wilmot laughed, though the legless man’s words brought the ache into his heart.
“You will return to New York,” Blizzard went on, “during the first half of January.”
“I had rather promised myself to keep out of New York for a year.”
“It will be for only a few days. If you don’t wish your presence in the city known, I’ll put you up in my house. Parts of it are as secret as the grave.”
“All right. But supposing the revolution falls through before it ever gets started?”
“I’ll make you a bet,” said Blizzard, smiling. “Please reach me that black check-book.” He wrote a check, blotted it, and showed it to Wilmot. “This,” he said, “against a penny! It will pay your debts. It’s payable at the City Bank on January 16th. Put it in your pocket.”
“When do I start for Utah?”
“I hoped to come to your concert that night.”
Blizzard shook his head. “You will hear better music,” he said, “in the West—rifles on the ranges. And by the way, don’t lose that hat I gave you. It must be where you can get it on the 15th of January.”
To Wilmot a straw hat suggested the palm-groves of a South American republic rather than the streets of New York in midwinter, and he said so; but the legless man only smiled.
During those last days Barbara and Wilmot were together a great deal Tuesday morning, by invitation, he watched her at work upon her bust of Blizzard; afterward he took her to lunch and for a long drive through Westchester County. That night they dined with Mr. Ferris, who, immediately after dinner, excused himself, and withdrew to his laboratory. Wednesday morning Barbara did no work, but drove about in a taxicab with Wilmot and helped him shop. They lunched together, and she went to the Grand Central to see him off. Where Wilmot found the time to pack the things which they had bought in the morning was always something of a mystery to them both.