It was so arranged that Ruth went on duty after breakfast and remained until noon. The afternoon was her own; but from eight until midnight she sat beside the patient. At no time did she feel bodily or mental fatigue. Frequently she would doze in her chair; but the slightest movement on the bed aroused her.
At luncheon, on the third day, a thick-set man with a blue jaw smiled across his table at her. She recognized him as the man who had blundered into the wrong room.
“How is the patient?” he asked.
“He will live,” answered Ruth.
“That’s fine,” said O’Higgins. “I suppose he’ll be on his feet any day now.”
“No. It will take at least three weeks.”
“Well, so long as he gets on his feet in the end. You’re a friend of the young man?”
“If you mean did I know him before he became ill, no.”
“Ah.” O’Higgins revolved this information about, but no angle emitted light. Basically a kindly man but made cynical and derisive by sordid contacts, O’Higgins had almost forgotten that there was such a thing as unselfishness. The man or woman who did something for nothing always excited his suspicions; they were playing some kind of a game. “You mean you were just sorry for him?”
“As I would be for any human being in pain.”
“Uh-huh.” For the life of him, O’Higgins could not think of anything else to say. Just because she was sorry for that young fool! “Uh-huh,” he repeated, rising and bowing as he passed Ruth’s table. He wished he had the time to solve this riddle, for it was a riddle, and four-square besides. Back in the States young women did not offer to play the Good Samaritan to strange young fools whom Jawn D. Barleycorn had sent to the mat for the count of nine: unless the young fool’s daddy had a bundle of coin. Maybe the girl was telling the truth, and then again, maybe she wasn’t.
The situation bothered him considerably. Things happened frequently over here that wouldn’t happen in the States once in a hundred years. Who could say that the two weren’t in collusion? When a chap like Spurlock jumped the traces, cherchez la femme, every time. He hadn’t gambled or played the horses or hit the booze back there in little old New York....
“Aw, piffle!” he said, half aloud and rather disgustedly, as he stepped out into the sunshine. “My old coco is disintegrating. I’ve bumped into so much of the underside that I can’t see clean any more. No girl with a face like that.... And yet, dang it! I’ve seen ’em just as innocent looking that were prime vipers. Let’s get to Hong-Kong, James, and hit the high spots while there is time.”
He signalled to Ah Cum; and the two of them crossed on foot into the city.
It was not until the morning of the fifth day that the constant vigil was broken. The patient fell into a natural and refreshing sleep. So Ruth found that for a while her eyes were free. She tiptoed to the stand and gathered up the manuscripts which she carried to a chair by the window. Since the discovery of them, she had been madly eager to read these typewritten tales. Treasure caves to explore!