Oh, Ban, Ban! When I think of what we have been to each other; how gladly, how proudly, I gave myself to you, to find you unfaithful! Is that the price of success? And unfaithful in such a way! If you had been untrue to me in the conventional sense, I think it would have been a small matter compared to this betrayal. That would have been a thing of the senses, a wound to the lesser part of our love. But this—Couldn’t you see that our relation demanded more of faith, of fidelity, than marriage, to justify it and sustain it; more idealism, more truth, more loyalty to what we were to each other? And now this!
If it were I alone that you have betrayed, I could bear my own remorse; perhaps even think it retribution for what I have done. But how can I—and how can you—bear the remorse of the disaster that will fall upon Camilla Van Arsdale, your truest friend? What is there left to her, now that the man she loves is to be hounded out of public life by blackmailers? I have not told her. I have not been able to tell her. Perhaps he will write her, himself. How can she bear it! I am going away, leaving a companion in charge of her.
Camilla Van Arsdale! One last drop of bitterness in the cup of suffering. Neither she nor Io had, of course, learned of Enderby’s death, and could not for several days, until the newspapers reached them. Banneker perceived clearly the thing that was laid upon him to do. He must go out to Manzanita and take the news to her. That was part of his punishment. He sent a telegram to Mindle, his factotum on the ground.
Hold all newspapers from Miss C. until I get there, if you have to rob mails. E.B.
Without packing his things, without closing his house, without resigning his editorship, he took the next train for Manzanita. Io, coming East, and still unaware of the final tragedy, passed him, halfway.
While the choir was chanting, over the body of Willis Enderby, the solemn glory of Royce Melvin’s funeral hymn, the script of which had been found attached to his last statement, Banneker, speeding westward, was working out, in agony of soul, a great and patient penance, for his own long observance, planning the secret and tireless ritual through which Camilla Van Arsdale should keep intact her pure and long delayed happiness while her life endured.
A dun pony ambled along the pine-needle-carpeted trail leading through the forest toward Camilla Van Arsdale’s camp, comfortably shaded against the ardent power of the January sun. Behind sounded a soft, rapid padding of hooves. The pony shied to the left with a violence which might have unseated a less practiced rider, as, with a wild whoop, Dutch Pete came by at full gallop. Pete had been to a dance at the Sick Coyote on the previous night which had imperceptibly merged itself into the present morning, and had there imbibed enough of the spirit of the occasion to last him his fifteen miles home to his ranch. Now he pulled up and waited for the slower rider to overtake him.