His subsequent actions were methodical enough; a shower, a thorough rub-down, and then into his workaday clothes. He packed his trunk and hand-luggage, overlooked nothing that was his, and went down into the living-room where he knew he would find Killigrew with the morning papers. He felt oddly light-headed; but he had no time to analyze the cause.
“Good morning, Thomas,” greeted the master of the house cordially.
“I am leaving, Mr. Killigrew. Will you be kind enough to let me have the use of the motor to the station?”
“Leaving! What’s happened? What’s the matter? Young man, what the devil’s this about?”
“I am sorry, sir, but I have insulted Miss Killigrew.”
“Insulted Kitty?” Killigrew sprang up.
“Just a moment, sir,” warned Thomas. The tense, short but powerful figure of Kitty’s father was not at that moment an agreeable thing to look at; and Thomas knew that those knotted hands were rising toward his throat. “Do not misinterpret me, sir. I took Miss Kitty in my arms and kissed her.”
“You—kissed—Kitty?” Killigrew fell back into his chair, limp. For a moment there had been black murder in his heart; now he wondered whether to weep or laugh. The reaction was too sudden to admit of coherent thought. “You kissed Kitty?” he repeated mechanically.
“What did she do?”
“I did not wait to learn, sir.”
Killigrew got up and walked the length of the room several times, his chin in his collar, his hands clasped behind his back, under his coat-tails. The fifth passage carried him out on to the veranda. He kept on going and disappeared among the lilac hedges.
Thomas thought he understood this action, that his inference was perfectly logical; Killigrew, rather than strike the man who had so gratuitously insulted his daughter, had preferred to run away. (I know; for a long time I, too, believed Thomas the most colossal ass since Dobson.) Thomas gazed mournfully about the room. It was all over. He had burned his bridges. It had been so pleasant, so homelike; and he had begun to love these unpretentious people as if they had been his very own.
Except that which had been expended on clothes, Thomas had most of his salary. It would carry him along till he found something else to do. To get away, immediately, was the main idea; he had found a door to the trap. (The chamois-bag lay in his trunk, forgotten.)
“Your breakfast is ready, sir,” announced the grave butler.
So Thomas ate his chops and potatoes and toast and drank his tea, alone.
And Killigrew, blinking tears, leaned against the stout branches of the lilacs and buried his teeth in his coat-sleeve. He was as near apoplexy as he was ever to come.