Always, though he had realized that she was unattainable, there must have lingered within his breast a faint spark of hope that somehow, some time, there would be a chance, but after to-night he knew there could never be a chance. She had openly confessed her contempt for him, and how would she feel later when she realized that through his efforts her happiness was to be wrecked, and the man she loved and was to marry branded as a criminal?
A letter from Murray.
The girl opposite him looked up from the card before her. The lines of her face were softened by the suggestion of a contented smile. “My gracious!” she exclaimed. “What’s the matter now? You look as though you had lost your last friend.”
Jimmy quickly forced a smile to his lips. “On the contrary,” he said, “I think I’ve found a regular friend—in you.”
It was easy to see that his words pleased her.
“No,” continued Jimmy; “I was thinking of what an awful mess I make of everything I tackle.”
“You’re not making any mess of this new job,” she said. “You’re making good. You see, my hunch was all right.”
“I wish you hadn’t had your hunch,” he said with a smile. “It’s going to bring a lot of trouble to several people, but now that I’m in it I’m going to stick to it to a finish.”
The girl’s eyes were wandering around the room, taking in the faces of the diners about them. Suddenly she extended her hand and laid it on Jimmy’s.
“For the love of Mike,” she exclaimed. “Look over there.”
Slowly Jimmy turned his eyes in the direction she indicated.
“What do you know about that?” he ejaculated. “Steve Murray and Bince!”
“And thick as thieves,” said the girl.
“Naturally,” commented Jimmy.
The two men left the restaurant before Edith and Jimmy had finished their supper, leaving the two hazarding various guesses as to the reason for their meeting.
“You can bet it’s for no good,” said the girl. “I’ve known Murray for a long while, and I never knew him to do a decent thing in his life.”
Their supper over, they walked to Clark Street and took a northbound car, but after alighting Jimmy walked with the girl to the entrance of her apartment.
“I can’t thank you enough,” he said, “for giving me this evening. It is the only evening I have enjoyed since I struck this town last July.”
He unlocked the outer door for her and was holding it open.
“It is I who ought to thank you,” she said. Her voice was very low and filled with suppressed feeling. “I ought to thank you, for this has been the happiest evening of my life,” and as though she could not trust herself to say more, she entered the hallway and closed the door between them.
As Jimmy turned away to retrace his steps to the car-line he found his mind suddenly in a whirl of jumbled emotions, for he was not so stupid as to have failed to grasp something of the significance of the girl’s words and manner.