Fitzgerald lost a little color, that was all. But his customer ignored the imputation. She took out a card and laid it on the tray, and without further ado went serenely on her way. The policeman stepped toward her as if to speak, but she turned her delicate head aside. The crowd engulfed her presently, and Fitzgerald picked up the card. There was neither name nor definite address on it. It was a message, hastily written; and it sent a thrill of delight and speculation to his impressionable heart. Still carrying the tray before him he hastened over to the club, where there was something of an ovation. Instead of a dinner for three it became one for a dozen, and Fitzgerald passed the statuettes round as souvenirs of the most unique bet of the year. There were lively times. Toward midnight, as Fitzgerald was going out of the coat room, Cathewe spoke to him.
“What was her name, Jack?”
“Hanged if I know.”
“She dropped a card on your tray.”
Fitzgerald scrubbed his chin. “There wasn’t any name on it. There was an address and something more. Now, wait a moment, Arthur; this is no ordinary affair. I would not show it to any one else. Here, read it yourself.”
“Come to the house at the top of the hill, in Dalton, to-morrow night at eight o’clock. But do not come if you lack courage.”
That was all. Cathewe ran a finger, comb-fashion, through his mustache. He almost smiled.
“Where the deuce is Dalton?” Fitzgerald inquired.
“It is a little village on the New Jersey coast; not more than forty houses, post-office, hotel, and general store; perhaps an hour out of town.”
“What would you do in my place? It may be a joke, and then again it may not. She knew that I was a rank impostor.”
“But she knew that a man must have a certain kind of daredevil courage to play the game you played. Well, you ask me what I should do in your place. I’d go.”
“I shall. It will double discount fishing. And the more I think of it, the more certain I become that she and I have met somewhere. By-by!”
Cathewe lingered in the reading-room, pondering. Here was a twist to the wager he was rather unprepared for; and if the truth must be told, he was far more perplexed than Fitzgerald. He knew the girl, but he did not know and could not imagine what purpose she had in aiding Fitzgerald to win his wager or luring him out to an obscure village in this detective-story manner.
“Well, I shall hear all about it from her father,” he concluded.
And all in good time he did.
PIRATES AND PRIVATE SECRETARIES
It was a little station made gloomy by a single light. Once in so often a fast train stopped, if properly flagged. Fitzgerald, feeling wholly unromantic, now that he had arrived, dropped his hand-bag on the damp platform and took his bearings. It was after sundown. The sea, but a few yards away, was a murmuring, heaving blackness, save where here and there a wave broke. The wind was chill, and there was the hint of a storm coming down from the northeast.