“Yes, I think so,” she muttered. “It is not a new situation. But I—no friend, man or girl, could avail in a case like that.” She paused a moment clasping and unclasping her hands. I waited.
“Who is this—this woman?” she blurted out at last.
“A lady. You—you put me at a disadvantage.”
“What is her name?” she insisted.
“Marcia Van Wyck,” I muttered.
“Marcia! Surely—” She stopped. A look of bewilderment came over her face, ending with a frown of perplexity.
“No,” she murmured. “He wouldn’t understand Marcia. I—” And then with a gasp, “And you want me to interfere? Mr. Canby, I—”
“Just a moment, please. I ask nothing that you cannot do. I have thought of a plan. We are alone at the Manor. I ask you to meet Jerry as you met him there last summer along by the Sweetwater. I am going to arrange to have him fish up the stream on Saturday afternoon. Will you come, Miss Habberton, come to the wall and meet him there inside the broken grille? I know his mind. It is curiously affected by facts of association. It is the only thing. I have—”
The words died on my lips as she rose, her slim figure straight in its sudden dignity, and I knew that I had failed.
“Your proposal is preposterous, Mr. Canby,” she said coolly, moving toward the door.
“Of course. I am sorry if Mr. Benham has failed, is failing his friends, but the thing that you suggest is impossible.” She put out her hand in token of dismissal.
“And you won’t reconsider? Let me come to see you tomorrow, the next day. Is it so much that I ask?”
“Good night, Mr. Canby.”
“You do not care enough?”
I bowed over her fingers silently.
Then I took up my hat. There was nothing left to do.
THE PATH IN THE WOOD
Had I not been obsessed with the desire at all costs to divert the unhappy tide of Jerry’s infatuation, I must have known that no girl such as Una Habberton could lend herself as accessory to a plan like mine. I had had evidence enough that she cared for Jerry in a tender, almost a motherly way, and while I had been unsuccessful in my mission, I now saw no reason to change my opinion. Indeed, in my hotel room that night, the more I thought of the interview the more convinced I was that whatever modesty deterred her, it was the very fact of her caring so much that made the thing impossible to her. Her air of indifference, carefully assumed, had not hidden the rapid rise and fall of her breast at the confession of my fears. The inquietude of her manner, the curiosity which had permitted me to finish my story, were proof convincing that her interests in Jerry were more than ordinarily involved, and the more I thought of her attitude the more I wondered at my own temerity.