“We’ll say no more about it now, Miss Stephen,” he remarked. “Lawrence and I are old friends, and I’m heavily in your debt.”
Lucy looked up with a smile and blush, and Foster understood what she meant when she answered: “I hope you will always be his friend.”
FOSTER SETS OFF AGAIN
After dinner the party returned to the veranda, which was warm and well lighted. Mrs. Stephen resumed her sewing, Lawrence settled himself comfortably in his big chair, and Foster engaged Lucy in careless talk. She had a pleasant voice and pretty, animated gestures, and after the strain he had borne there was a charm in relaxing and lazily enjoying the society of an attractive girl. The trouble was that he could not be careless long. Lawrence was inclined to put off disagreeable things, and would no doubt sooner leave disturbing subjects alone; but Foster had only kept half his promise to Alice and time that might be valuable was being lost.
“Your adventure made an interesting story, Lawrence, but you took unusual trouble to make us understand all that happened,” he said at length.
Lawrence’s gesture hinted at humorous resignation. “You’re a restless fellow, Jake, but I hoped you’d wait until to-morrow. You see, I’ve been warned to keep quiet.”
Foster looked at Lucy and imagined that he had her support; she no doubt knew his comrade’s weakness for procrastination.
“I’ll try not to disturb you much,” he replied.
“Then you and Lucy insisted on my relating the thing at length. I felt I had to indulge you.”
Lucy’s smile hinted that Foster must be firm. “That wasn’t quite enough. You had another motive.”
“Oh, well,” said Lawrence, “I suppose I wanted to recall the thing and see how it looked in the light of what you told me about your exploits in Scotland.”
“They make it look different, don’t they?” Lucy remarked.
Lawrence gave her a good-humored smile and then turned to Foster. “Lucy’s cleverer than I, but I really thought she was rather hard on Walters.” He paused for a moment, and then resumed thoughtfully: “You must remember that my object was to keep out of Daly’s way, and I thought I was safe as long as I could do so. One would have expected him to play a lone hand.”
“Didn’t you think there was something suspicious about Walters’ turning up again after he’d learned your name? There then were rather too many coincidences.”
“Suppose you enumerate them,” Lawrence suggested.
“He urged you to try the mountains and followed you to Banff. Then I’ve no doubt he proposed the trip up the glacier, for which he chose the guides. He sent the best back with Miss Stephen, and while this was the proper thing, it’s curious that the other guide got drunk. Walters gave him your flask. Then he fell when he threw the rope—at the only place where a fall would not have led to his shooting down the couloir. Afterwards, although speed was urgent, he was very slow in going back for help.”