“Oh, she did?” was all Garrison could find to interrupt with.
“Eh, demmit; pride, boy, pride,” said the major confidently. “Now, run along over and apologize; scratch humble gravel—clear down to China, if necessary. And mind you do it right proper. Some people apologize by saying: ‘If I’ve said anything I’m sorry for, I’m glad of it.’ Eh, demmit, remember never to compete for the right with a woman. Women are always right. Man shouldn’t be his own press-agent. It’s woman’s position—and delight. She values man on her own valuation—not his. Women are illogical—that’s why they marry us.”
The major concluded his advice by giving Garrison a hearty thump on the back. Then he prepared to charge his wife’s boudoir; to resume the peace conference with right on his side for the nonce.
Garrison slowly made his way down-stairs. His face was set. He knew his love for Sue was hopeless; an absurdity, a crime. But why had she broken the engagement? Had Waterbury said anything? He would go over and face Waterbury; face him and be done with it. He was reckless, desperate. As he descended the wide veranda steps a man stepped from behind a magnolia-tree shadowing the broad walk. A clear three-quarter moon was riding in the heavens, and it picked out Garrison’s thin set face.
The man swung up, and tapped him on the shoulder. “Hello, Bud!”
It was Dan Crimmins.
“Then I was not honest.”
Garrison eyed him coldly, and was about to pass when Crimmins barred his way.
“I suppose when you gets up in the world, it ain’t your way to know folks you knew before, is it?” he asked gently. “But Dan Crimmins has a heart, an’ it ain’t his way to shake friends, even if they has money. It ain’t Crimmins’ way.”
“Take your hand off my shoulder,” said Garrison steadily.
The other’s black brows met, but he smiled genially.
“It don’t go, Bud. No, no.” He shook his head. “Try that on those who don’t know you. I know you. You’re Billy Garrison; I’m Dan Crimmins. Now, if you want me to blow in an’ tell the major who you are, just say so. I’m obligin’. It’s Crimmins’ way. But if you want to help an old friend who’s down an’ out, just say so. I’m waitin’.”
Garrison eyed him. Crimmins? Crimmins? The name was part of his dream. What had he been to this man? What did this man know?
“Take a walk down the pike,” suggested the other easily. “It ain’t often you have the pleasure of seein’ an old friend, an’ the excitement is a little too much for you. I know how it is,” he added sympathetically. He was closely watching Garrison’s face.
Garrison mechanically agreed, wondering.