“I don’t believe Stewart is any detective, either,” said Richard Hartley. “He’s altogether too cocksure. That sort of man would rather die than admit he is wrong about anything. He’s a good old chap, though, isn’t he? I liked him to-day better than ever before. I thought he was rather pathetic when he went on about his age.”
“He has a good heart,” said Ste. Marie. “Very few men under the circumstances would come here and be as decent as he was. Most men would have thought I was a presumptuous ass, and would have behaved accordingly.”
Ste. Marie took a turn about the room, and his face began to light up with its new excitement and exaltation.
“And to-morrow!” he cried—“to-morrow we begin! To-morrow we set out into the world and the Adventure is on foot! God send it success!”
He laughed across at the other man; but it was a laugh of eagerness, not of mirth.
“I feel,” said he, “like Jason. I feel as if we were to set sail to-morrow for Colchis and the Golden Fleece.”
“Y-e-s,” said the other man, a little dryly—“yes, perhaps. I don’t want to seem critical, but isn’t your figure somewhat ill chosen?”
“’Ill chosen’?” cried Ste. Marie. “What d’you mean? Why ill chosen?”
“I was thinking of Medea,” said Richard Hartley.
* * * * *
JASON MEETS WITH A MISADVENTURE AND DREAMS A DREAM
So on the next day these two rode forth upon their quest, and no quest was ever undertaken with a stouter courage or with a grimmer determination to succeed. To put it fancifully, they burned their tower behind them, for to one of them, at least—to him who led—there was no going back.
But, after all, they set forth under a cloud, and Ste. Marie took a heavy heart with him. On the evening before an odd and painful incident had befallen—a singularly unfortunate incident.
It chanced that neither of the two men had a dinner engagement that evening, and so, after their old habit, they dined together. There was some wrangling over where they should go, Hartley insisting upon Armenonville or the Madrid, in the Bois, Ste. Marie objecting that these would be full of tourists so late in June, and urging the claims of some quiet place in the Quarter, where they could talk instead of listening perforce to loud music. In the end, for no particular reason, they compromised on the little Spanish restaurant in the rue Helder. They went there about eight o’clock, without dressing, for it is a very quiet place which the world does not visit, and they had a sopa de yerbas, and some langostinos, which are shrimps, and a heavenly arroz, with fowl in it, and many tender, succulent strips of red pepper. They had a salad made out of a little of everything that grows green, with the true Spanish oil, which has a tang and a bouquet unappreciated by the Philistine; and then they had a strange pastry and some cheese and green almonds. And to make then glad, they drank a bottle of old red Valdepenas, and afterward a glass each of a special Manzanilla, upon which the restaurant very justly prides itself.