“She’ll come along yet,” he prophesied, “and if she doesn’t, just you go out after her. I wouldn’t take too many chances in the waiting game.”
The German shook his head. His blue eyes swam with sentimental moisture. “You do not understand,” he said. “She went with another—I must wait for her to come away. I have no address—so?”
“Well, that—that’s different,” stammered the young American. His sympathy became cynical. Fishy business—but even a fishy business has its human side. So presently he found himself gazing interestedly upon the photograph the German displayed in the back of his watch—the photograph of a decollete young woman with provocative dark eyes and parted lips and pearl-like teeth, and he shook the caller’s hand most heartily in parting, and prophesied, with fine assurance, the successful end of this fishy romance.
“You have a heart, my friend,” said the German solemnly, and lifting hat and stick and lemon-colored gloves from the table, he bowed profoundly in farewell.
“And to the Fraeulein—you will give my so deep apology?” he added earnestly, and Billy assured him that he would. And he found himself, for all his pre-occupation with the vision of Arlee’s spring-like beauty, by no means displeased at the errand. A man must have something to do while he is waiting—if he is to avoid last bottles! He would seek her out that very afternoon.
* * * * *
But by afternoon he was tearing upstairs and downstairs through the hotel after a very different quarry, which at last he ran to earth at a tiny table behind a palm on the veranda. The quarry was further protected by an enveloping newspaper, but Billy did not stand on ceremony.
“I want to talk to you,” said he.
Falconer looked up. He recognized Billy perfectly, though his gaze gave no admission of that. This tall young fellow with the deep-set gray eyes and the rugged chin and the straight black hair he first remembered seeing dancing that Wednesday evening with Arlee—after their own disastrous tea and its estrangement. Arlee had appeared on mystifyingly good terms with him, though he was positive from his own observations, and had corroboration from the Evershams, that she had never spoken to him until five minutes before. Then the fellow had fairly grilled the Evershams about the girl’s whereabouts last night. And he had learned that the previous afternoon he had managed to take Claire’s protection upon himself in the bazaars, actually convincing her that she ought to feel indebted to him, and had driven back with them.... An unabashed intruder, that fellow! He ought to have a lesson.
His air of unwelcome deepened, if possible, as Billy helped himself to a chair, drew it confidentially close to him and cast a careful glance about the veranda.
“I don’t want anyone to hear this,” he explained.
Falconer smiled cynically. He had met confidential young Americans before. There was nothing they could sell him.