He, Sergeant Kent, the coolest man on the force next to Inspector Kedsty, the most dreaded of catechists when questioning criminals, the man who had won the reputation of facing quietly and with deadly sureness the most menacing of dangers, had been beaten— horribly beaten—by a girl! And yet, in defeat, an irrepressible and at times distorted sense of humor made him give credit to the victor. The shame of the thing was his acknowledgment that a bit of feminine beauty had done the trick. He had made fun of O’Connor when the big staff-sergeant had described the effect of the girl’s eyes on Inspector Kedsty. And, now, if O’Connor could know of what had happened here—
And then, like a rubber ball, that saving sense of humor bounced up out of the mess, and Kent found himself chuckling as his face grew cooler. His visitor had come, and she had gone, and he knew no more about her than when she had entered his room, except that her very pretty name was Marette Radisson. He was just beginning to think of the questions he had wanted to ask, a dozen, half a hundred of them—more definitely who she was; how and why she had come to Athabasca Landing; her interest in Sandy McTrigger; the mysterious relationship that must surely exist between her and Inspector Kedsty; and, chiefly, her real motive in coming to him when she knew that he was dying. He comforted himself by the assurance that he would have learned these things had she not left him so suddenly. He had not expected that.
The question which seated itself most insistently in his mind was, why had she come? Was it, after all, merely a matter of curiosity? Was her relationship to Sandy McTrigger such that inquisitiveness alone had brought her to see the man who had saved him? Surely she had not been urged by a sense of gratitude, for in no way had she given expression to that. On his death-bed she had almost made fun of him. And she could not have come as a messenger from McTrigger, or she would have left her message. For the first time he began to doubt that she knew the man at all, in spite of the strange thing that had happened under O’Connor’s eyes. But she must know Kedsty. She had made no answer to his half-accusation that she was hiding up at the Inspector’s bungalow. He had used that word—“hiding.” It should have had an effect. And she was as beautifully unconscious of it as though she had not heard him, and he knew that she had heard him very distinctly. It was then that she had given him that splendid view of her amazingly long lashes and had countered softly,
“What if you shouldn’t die?”