“None that she can not throw off at any time.” Breitmann’s mind was working strangely.
“If she would have me I would marry her tomorrow,” went on Cathewe, playing openly, “I would marry her to-morrow, priest or protestant, for her religion would be mine.”
There was a spark of admiration in Breitmann’s eyes. This man Cathewe was out of the ordinary. Well, as for that, so was he himself. He walked silently to the door and opened it, standing aside for the other to pass. “She is perfectly free. Marry her. She is all and more than you wish her to be. Will you go now?”
Cathewe bowed and turned on his heel. Breitmann had really got the better of him.
A peculiar interview, and only two strong men could have handled it in so few words. Not a word above normal tones; once or twice only, in the flutter of the eyelids or in the gesture of the hands, was there any sign that had these been primitive times the two would have gone joyously at each other’s throats.
“I owed her that much,” said Breitmann as he locked the door.
“It did not matter at all to me,” was Cathewe’s thought, as he knocked on Fitzgerald’s door and heard his cheery call, “I only wanted to know what sort of man he is.”
“Oh, I really don’t know whether I like him or not,” declared Fitzgerald. “I have run across him two or three times, but we were both busy. He has told me a little about himself. He’s been knocked about a good deal. Has a title, but doesn’t use it.”
“A title? That is news to me. Probably it is true.”
“I was surprised to learn that you knew him at all.”
“Not very well. Met him in Munich mostly.”
A long pause.
“Isn’t Miss Killigrew just rippin’?
There’s a comrade for some man.
Lucky devil, who gets her! She is new to me every day.”
“I think I warned you.”
“You were a nice one, never to say a word that you knew the admiral!”
“Are you complaining?”
Fitzgerald laughed; no not exactly; he wasn’t complaining.
“You remember the caravan trails in the Lybian desert; the old ones on the way to Khartoum? The pathway behind her is like that, marked with the bleached bones of princely and ducal and common hopes.” Cathewe stretched out in his chair. “Since she was eighteen, Jack, she has crossed the man-trail like a sandstorm, and quite as innocently, too.”
“Oh, rot! I’m no green and salad youth.”
“Your bones will be only the tougher, that’s all.”
“But what’s your opinion regarding Breitmann?”
Cathewe laced his fingers and bent his chin on them. “There’s a great rascal or a great hero somewhere under his skin.”
THEY GO A-SAILING