“All right,” said Billy, and then he gave a short laugh. “Lord, we shall be quarreling like a couple of backyard dames next ... Of course, we’re chagrined. It’s poor satisfaction to reflect that we did our best—and if you are still uncertain about Miss Beecher’s danger there I can’t blame you for seeing the folly of the business.”
After this effort of pleasantness Billy subsided into the cab that was most welcomely discovered, rousing after some minutes of violent progress to change their direction to the English doctor’s.
“Winged,” he said briefly, to Falconer’s question. “Watchman chap as I was getting over the wall. Nothing wrong, I know, but it feels like—fire,” he substituted.
Falconer was instantly concerned, but his sympathy went against the grain. Billy was too stirred for consolation. At the doctor’s he refused to have Falconer enter with him.
“No use in having both of us traced if there is to be any trouble about this,” he said with decision. “Go ahead and telegraph the Evershams and get an answer as soon as possible.”
He had no earthly belief in that answer, and great, therefore, was his astonishment when, as he was walking the floor with his tingling arm in the early morning hours, a telegram was sent to him which Falconer had just received. His wire had caught the boat at Rhoda where it tied up for the night and Mrs. Eversham had promptly answered.
“We have heard from Miss Beecher,” she said, “and she may join us later. Her address just Cook’s, Alexandria.”
ON THE TRAIL
Breakfasting, a little one-handedly, that Monday morning, Billy was approached by his companion of the night. The young Englishman looked fresh and fit and subtly triumphant.
“Good news—what?” he said with a genial smile.
“If authentic,” said the dogged Billy.
“Of all the fanatic f——!” The sandy-haired young man checked his explosiveness in mid-air. He gave a glance at the bulge of bandage beneath Billy’s coat sleeve and dropped into a chair beside him. “How’s the arm?” he inquired in a tone of restraint.
“Fine,” said Billy without enthusiasm.
“Glad of that. Afraid the canal bath wouldn’t do it any good. Beastly old place, that.” Then the Englishman gave a sudden chuckle. “It’s a regular old lark when you come to think of it!”
“Our lack of luck wasn’t any great lark.” Savagely Bill speared his bacon.
“Luck? Why we—Oh, come now, my dear fellow, you can’t pretend to maintain those suspicions now! Of course the letter is authentic!” Falconer spoke between irritation and raillery. “That Turkish fellow could hardly fake that letter to them, could he? No, and we will have to acknowledge ourselves actuated by a too-hasty suspicion—inevitable under the circumstance—and be grateful that the uncertainty is over. That’s the only way to look at it.”