“He knows,” she cried, quickly, “all that you have let Mr. Winston know! Everything you have told your lawyer—”
She paused, hesitating. Mr. Crawford looked at her sharply.
“What?” he demanded, a vague hint of anxiety in his tone.
“He knows—for he told me—the exact condition of your finances.”
“Had I not better go?” suggested Conniston. “I do not want—”
“No. You are with us. If Hapgood knows, if he is going to peddle what he knows, you might as well know too! What did he say, Argyl?”
“He said, father, that you had played to the end of your string. He said that you did not have ten thousand dollars in the world. He said that you did not know where to turn to raise the cash for the rest of the work we have before us. I—I—” She looked anxiously at him. “Did I do wrong, father? Should I have temporized with him—ought I to have kept him from going away angry?”
“You should have let me throw him outdoors. I am not afraid of him.” He turned from her to Conniston. His face was very grave, his eyes troubled, but he spoke firmly, confidently. “You see, Mr. Conniston, that we have a fight ahead of us. Some people would say that we are on a sinking ship. What do you think?”
“I think,” said Conniston, simply, “that we will win out in spite of what people say. I hope I may help you.”
“Thank you. To-morrow morning I am coming out to see what you and Truxton are doing. I shall want to have a talk with him—and with you. You will of course say nothing of what has happened to-night.”
Out in the darkness Conniston walked slowly toward the office building, his brows drawn, his eyes upon the ground, a fear which he could not argue away in his heart. With untold capital to back them the fight against the desert was such a fight as most men would not want upon their hands. With Oliver Swinnerton and the gold behind him which he was spending with the recklessness of assurance, the fight was tenfold harder. And now, when it was clear that the great bulk of John Crawford’s fortune was already sunk into the sand, the fight seemed hopeless.
It had been a bad night for lovers. At the office building, leaning against the wall, a cigarette dangling dejectedly from his lips, Lonesome Pete was waiting for him.
“That you, Con?”
“Yes. What are you doing here?”
“Waitin’ for you, an’ meditatin’ mos’ly.” He cast away his cigarette, sighed deeply, and began a search for his paper and tobacco. “I was wantin’ to ask you a question, Con.”
Conniston said, “Go ahead, Pete,” and made himself a cigarette.
“It’s this-a-way.” The cowboy lighted a match and let it burn out without applying the flame to his brown paper. For a moment he hesitated, and then blurted out: “You’ve knowed some considerable females in your time, I take it. Huh, Con?”
“Well?” Conniston repeated.