Having decided upon a course of action, I lost no time in setting forth, following the Sweetwater to the wall and then, not finding Jerry, making as though by instinct for the cabin. Perhaps I may be pardoned for approaching the place with cautious footsteps. I was justified, I think, by the anxiety of the moment and the fear of a damage that might be irreparable. I am sure that the somber shade of old John Benham guided me upon my way and made light my footsteps as I crept through the bushes and peered through the window of the cabin.
There upon the floor, before the hearth, in which some fagots were burning, sat Jerry and the minx, as thick as thieves, oblivious of the fall of night, wrapped in their own conversation and in themselves. I am willing to admit that the girl was pretty, though from the glimpses I had of it, her profile gave no suggestion of the classical ideals of beauty, for her nose made a short line far from regular and her hair, though carelessly dressed, was worn, in some absurd modern fashion with which I was unfamiliar. And yet in a general way I may say that there seemed to be no doubt as to her comeliness. She was quite small and crouched as she was upon the floor before the fire she even seemed childish—quite too unimportant a creature to have made such a hullabaloo in this small world of ours.
Nevertheless I felt justified in keeping silence and even in listening to their conversation.
“You didn’t mean it,” I heard Jerry ask, “about all those girls’ mothers, did you?”
“Of course I did. You’re a catch, you know.”
“You mean, they want to catch me? Nonsense. I don’t believe you.”
“It’s true. You’re too rich to escape.”
“If that’s the way marriage is made I don’t think much of it.”
“It isn’t always like that.” She smiled. “People aren’t all as rich as you are.”
“It’s queer,” he said after a pause. “I’ve never thought of myself as being different from other people. If money makes one man more desirable than another then money sets false standards of judgment. The people here I like for what they are, not for what they have. That’s all wrong somehow, Una. It makes me think crooked.”
“I suppose I’m talking too much. You don’t have to believe what I say,” she said slowly.
“But I want to know and I want you to talk. You’ve stirred something deep in me. You somehow make me think I’ve been looking at everything sideways without being able to walk around it. Roger knows what he’s about, of course, and I suppose he has reasons of his own, but I’m a not a child any longer. And if he does not care to tell me the whole truth, I’ve got to find out things for myself from somebody else.” And then, turning upon her suddenly: “You aren’t lying to me, are you?”