I made my way down over the rocks, casting a glance over my shoulder toward Jerry as I descended. He was following slowly, his hands behind him, his head down, the pipe hanging bowl downward in his teeth. There was anger in his appearance but there was something of reflection, too. Down on a lower level where the going was easier I paused, deliberating whether I shouldn’t put my pride in my pocket and braving rebuffs, wait for him. I had half decided to choose this ignominious course when in the path ahead of me at some distance away I espied a figure walking toward me. I was deep in the shadow and the person, a female, had not espied me, but I could see her quite clearly in the sunlight. There was no mistaking her curious gait. It was Marcia Van Wyck, come at pains which must convince of her contrition, to make peace with Jerry.
I looked again to be sure that my eyes had not deceived me and then jumped into the underbrush beside the path and hid myself under a projection of nearby rock. I disliked the girl intensely and hated the sight of her, and this must, I suppose, account for the sudden impulse which led to my undignified retreat. Had I known in advance of the unfortunate situation in which it would have placed me, I should have faced her boldly or have fled miles away from that spot, to be forever associated in my mind with the one really discreditable experience of my career. I have always been, I think, an honorable man and such a paltry sin as eavesdropping had always been beneath me, save on the one occasion when my duty as Jerry’s guardian prompted me to listen for a few moments at the cabin window last year when Una and Jerry were settling between them the affairs of the world. That was a pardonable transgression, this, a different affair, for Jerry was now released from my guardianship, a grown man ostensibly capable of managing his own affairs, which, as he had some moments before taken pains to inform me, were none of mine.
But as luck would have it, the girl walking upstream and Jerry walking down, they met in the path just beside the rock behind which I was so uncomfortably reclining and scarcely daring to breathe. I could not see their faces as they came together, but I heard their voices quite Distinctly.
“Marcia!” said Jerry, it seemed a trifle harshly. “What are you doing here?”
With my vision obstructed, the soft tones of her voice seemed to take an added significance.
“I came,” she purred, “because, Jerry, I couldn’t stay away.”
And then, after a pause, her voice even more silken, “You don’t seem very glad to see me.”
“I—I—your appearance surprised me.”
“But now that the surprise is over—are you glad to see me?” she asked.
A pause and then I heard him mutter.
“I didn’t suppose that—after yesterday you would want to see me.”
“Yesterday,” she sighed, “twenty-four hours—an age! The surest proof that I wanted to see you is that I’m here, that I ran away from a house full of people, just to tell you—”