“Well, Mr. Canby,” she said softly. “Your dream-castle totters.”
I glanced up at her quickly, but she still smiled.
“It has fallen,” I groaned.
“No—not yet,” still cheerfully. She paused a moment, and, leaning her elbows on the balustrade, looked out down the valley.
“All will be well,” she said at last slowly.
Our glances met. “I have that presentiment,” she added.
“Based on what?” I said bitterly. “A man who can inspire such a passion as this is no more than a beast—”
“Or no less than a man,” she muttered quickly. “You forget that Jerry is what you’ve made him—”
“Not this—the body the servant—not the mind—”
“The mind will survive,” she put in evenly. “It must. The whole thing is hypnotic. He will pass out of it soon.”
She shrugged lightly. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen her like this before. I think if Jerry were to seize her by force and carry her away today—now—she couldn’t resist him.”
“But he won’t. He treats her as though she were a flower, caresses her with his eyes, touches her petals timidly—”
“Bah! I could crush her—”
She smiled indulgently.
“She is a strange creature. Love is an enigma to her. That’s why she follows this mad whim for Jerry—she doesn’t mistake it for love, she knows too much—but it’s a fair imitation.”
“It is morbid, unhealthy.”
“Perhaps, but like other diseases, will pass.”
“Leaving Jerry sick?”
“He will recover.”
A calm fell upon me. Was she right after all? What reason had I to lose faith in Jerry when this woman, almost a stranger to me, believed in him? I turned and laid my hands quietly over hers.
“Thanks,” I stammered. “You’re very kind.” And then realizing the silly impulsiveness of my action, straightened for fear that she might misunderstand. Without moving from her position, she turned her head and smiled at me quizzically. If her eyes hadn’t been kind I would have thought she was laughing at me.
THE UNKNOWN UNMASKED
The three weeks of training passed quickly and Carty had won his fight, a favorable augury for the camp of Flynn. Jerry worked hard, too hard it almost seemed for flesh and blood to endure, but he seemed tireless. He had lost weight, of course, and his face was haggard and drawn, but he ate and slept well and though a little irritable at times, seemed cheerful enough. Marcia came frequently, always with Miss Gore, and the word was passed around that Jim Robinson’s “chicken” was staying in the village. I think Jerry’s wooing prospered. There were no Channing Lloyds at Briar Hills now. To all appearances the girl was with him heart and soul and when Jerry rested on the terrace in a reclining