“O’Connor was the big, red-faced man with Mr. Kedsty?”
“Yes, my trail partner. He came to me yesterday and raved about your eyes. They are beautiful; I’ve never seen eyes half so lovely. But that wasn’t what struck Bucky so hard. It was the effect they had on Kedsty. He said they shattered every nerve in Kedsty’s body, and Kedsty isn’t the sort to get easily frightened. And the queer part of it was that the instant you had gone, he gave O’Connor an order to free McTrigger—and then turned and followed you. All the rest of that day O’Connor tried to discover something about you at the Landing. He couldn’t find hide nor hair—I beg pardon!—I mean he couldn’t find out anything about you at all. We made up our minds that for some reason or other you were hiding up at Kedsty’s bungalow. You don’t mind a fellow saying all this—when he is going to pop off soon—do you?”
He was half frightened at the directness with which he had expressed the thing. He would gladly have buried his own curiosity and all of O’Connor’s suspicions for another moment of her hand on his forehead. But it was out, and he waited.
She was looking down, her fingers twisting some sort of tasseled dress ornament in her lap, and Kent mentally measured the length of her lashes with a foot rule in mind. They were superb, and in the thrill of his admiration he would have sworn they were an inch long. She looked up suddenly and caught the glow in his eyes and the flush that lay under the tan of his cheeks. Her own color had deepened a little.
“What if you shouldn’t die?” she asked him bluntly, as if she had not heard a word of all he had said about Kedsty. “What would you do?”
“I’m going to.”
“But if you shouldn’t?”
Kent shrugged his shoulders. “I suppose I’d have to take my medicine. You’re not going?”
She had straightened up and was sitting on the edge of her chair. “Yes, I’m going. I’m afraid of my eyes. I may look at you as I looked at Mr. Kedsty, and then—pop you’d go, quick! And I don’t want to be here when you die!”
He heard a soft little note of laughter in her throat. It sent a chill through him. What an adorable, blood-thirsty little wretch she was! He stared at her bent head, at the shining coils of her wonderful hair. Undone, he could see it completely hiding her. And it was so soft and warm that again he was tempted to reach out and touch it. She was wonderful, and yet it was not possible that she had a heart. Her apparent disregard of the fact that he was a dying man was almost diabolic. There was no sympathy in the expression of her violet eyes as she looked at him. She was even making fun of the fact that he was about to die!
She stood up, surveying for the first time the room in which she had been sitting. Then she turned to the window and looked out. She reminded Kent of a beautiful young willow that had grown at the edge of a stream, exquisite, slender, strong. He could have picked her up in his arms as easily as a child, yet he sensed in the lithe beauty of her body forces that could endure magnificently. The careless poise of her head fascinated him. For that head and the hair that crowned it he knew that half the women of the earth would have traded precious years of their lives.