King continued to gaze at her with a steadiness somewhat indefensible except as one considers that all motorists, meeting on the highway, are accustomed to take note of one another as comrades of the road. He was not conscious that the other young people in the car also regarded him with eyes of interest, and if he had he would not have realized just why. His handsome, alert face, its outlines slightly sharpened by his late experiences, his well-dressed, stalwart figure, carried no hint of the odious plaster jacket which to his own thinking put him outside the pale of interest for any one.
But it could not be Anne Linton; of course it could not! What should a poor little book agent be doing here in a rich man’s car—unless she were in his employ? And somehow the fact that this girl was not in any man’s employ was established by the manner in which the young man on the front seat spoke to her, as he now did, plainly heard by King. Though all he said was some laughing, more or less witty thing about this being the nineteenth time, by actual count since breakfast, that a question of roads and routes had arisen, he spoke as to an equal in social status, and also—this was plainer yet—as to one on whom he had a more than ordinary claim. And King listened for her answer—surely he would know her voice if she spoke? One may distrust the evidence of one’s eyes when it comes to a matter of identity, but one’s ears are not to be deceived.
But King’s ears, stretched though they might be, metaphorically speaking, like those of a mule, to catch the sound of that voice, caught nothing. She replied to the young man on the front seat only by a nod and a smile. Then, as the chauffeur began to fold up his road map, thanking Burns for his careful directions, and both cars were on the point of starting, the object of King’s heart-arresting scrutiny looked at him once again. Her straight gaze, out of such eyes as he had never seen but on those two occasions, met his without flinching—a long, steady, level look, which lasted until, under Burns’s impatient hand, the smaller car got under motion and began to move. Even then, though she had to turn her head a little, she let him hold her gaze—as, of course, he was nothing loath to do, being intensely and increasingly stirred by the encounter with its baffling hint of mystery. Indeed, she let him hold that gaze until it was not possible for her longer to maintain her share of the exchange without twisting about in the car. As for King, he did not scruple to twist, as far as his back would let him, until he had lost those eyes from his view.
JORDAN IS A MAN
When King turned back again to face the front his heart was thumping prodigiously. Almost he was certain it had been Anne Linton; yet the explanation—if there were one—was not to be imagined. And if it had been Anne Linton, why should she have refused to know him? There could have been little difficulty for her in identifying him, even though she had seen him last lying flat on his back on a hospital bed. And if there had been a chance of her not knowing him—there was Red Pepper.