“God forbid!” he muttered.
Close, close she clasped him, hiding her face against him, kissing and kissing the rough cloth of his coat.
“Oh, Geoffrey,” she murmured, “how we do love each other!”
“So much, Hermione, that I will never—claim you until you are ready to come to me of your own will. But, dear, I am only a man—how long must I wait?”
“Give me time,” she pleaded, “with time the horror may grow less. Let me go away for awhile—a little while. Let me find Arthur—”
“No,” he answered, frowning, “you shan’t do that; there will be no need—to-morrow I go to fetch him.”
“To bring him—here?”
“Why, of course. You see, I intend him to go to college.”
Hermione rose and coming to the entrance of the arbour leaned there.
“Why, Hermione—dear love—you’re crying! What is it?”
“Nothing,” she answered, bowing her face upon her arm, “only—I think—if you ask me again—I can’t—keep you—waiting—very long!”
OF A PACKET OF LETTERS
M’Ginnis jerked aside the roll-top desk and falling on his knees before a small but massive safe built into the wall behind, set the combination and swung open the heavy door, talking to his companion as he did so and quite unconscious of the pale face that watched him through the dingy window.
“That dam’ Soapy’s gettin’ ugly,” he was saying, “an’ it don’t do t’ get ugly with me, Heine, boy! Soapy thinks he’s smart Alec all right, but I guess I’m some smarter. Why, I got evidence enough in here t’ ’lectrocute a dozen Soapys.”
“So?” said Heine, chewing on his cigar and peering into the safe. “Say, what’s all them tied up in sassy blue ribbon, Bud?”
“These?” said M’Ginnis, and he took out a bundle of letters, turning them over in his big hands.
“Sure thing!” he nodded, and as he stared down at this packet, how should he know how tense and rigid had become the lounging form in the darkness beyond the window, or guess of the wide glare of watchful eyes or of the sudden quiver of a smouldering cigarette?
“Yes, a girl’s letters, Heine! An’ a hell of a lot of ’em. I dunno why I keep ’em, but—oh, hell!” So saying he tossed the letters back again and turned to his companion. “Hand over that dope!” he commanded, and Heine passed over a bundle of papers which M’Ginnis carefully slipped into a certain compartment. As he did so, Heine spun around upon his heel.
“Gee whiz!” he exclaimed, “you shook me that time, Soapy! Where’ve you blown in from—”
“An’ what th’ hell are you nosin’ around here for, anyway?” snarled M’Ginnis, shutting the heavy safe with a fierce slam; “since you’ve come in you can get out again—right now!”
Soapy seated himself upon a corner of the desk and placidly breathed out two spirals of cigarette smoke.