Jack and I smoked in the library, discussing every phase of the situation. The coming of night without a word or a sign from the boy had made us both a prey to the liveliest fears. Something had happened to Jerry—What? He had been wild, determined. I could not forget his look. It was the same expression I had seen at Madison Square Garden when he had made his insensate effort to knock Clancy out—a narrow glitter of the eyes, brute-keen and directed by a mind made crafty by desperation. Weary of surmises, at last we relapsed into silence, trying to read. Jack at last dozed over his book and, unable longer to remain seated, I got up, went outside and walked around the house again and again. The garage tempted me. Jerry’s machine was inside. Unknown to Jack I would go myself to Briar Hills and see Miss Gore. She would know.
There was a light in the window. I turned the knob and entered. As I did so someone stooping rose and faced me. It was Jerry, a terrible figure, his clothes torn and covered with dirt, his hair matted and hanging over his eyes, which gleamed somberly out of dark circles. He had a wrench in his hand. For a moment in my timidity and uncertainty I thought him mad and about to strike me with it. But he made no move toward me and only hung his head like a whipped dog.
“What has happened. Jerry?”
“Nothing. Don’t ask.”
“But Jack and I have been sitting up for you. We’ve been worried.”
“I know. But it couldn’t be helped. Just don’t ask me anything, Roger.”
I was glad enough to have him safe and apparently quite sane. I don’t know why I should have considered his sanity at that moment of peculiar importance unless because my own mind had been all the afternoon and evening so colored with the impression of his last appearance. I had become so used to the sense of strain, of tension in his condition of mind, that the quiet, rather submissive tone of his voice affected me strangely. It seemed almost as if the disease was passing, that his fever was abated.
“I won’t ask you anything, if you don’t like, but I think you’d better come to the house and get a hot bath and to bed.”
He remained silent for a long moment.
“I’m not going to the house, Roger. I’m going—”
He paused again.
“Going! Where?” I asked.
“I don’t know just yet. Away from here, from New York—at once.”
“But I can’t let you go without—”
He held up his hand and I paused.
“Don’t talk, Roger,” he said quickly. “Don’t question and don’t talk. It won’t do any good. I had hoped I shouldn’t see you. I was waiting—waiting until the lights went out.”
“But I couldn’t.”
“Please!” he said quietly, and then went on.
“I was going to get some things and go during the night. Now you’ll have to help me. Tell Christopher to pack a bag—just a clean suit and linen—and bring it here—And—and that’s all.” He held out his hand with a sober smile. “Good-by, Roger,” he finished.