In spite of the unpleasant tension of the moment, it cheered Father Layonne to see this old humor returning into the heart of his friend. With him love was an enduring thing. He might grieve for James Kent, he might pray for the salvation of his soul, he might believe him guilty, yet he still bore for him the affection which was too deeply rooted in his heart to be uptorn by physical things or the happenings of chance. So the old cheer of his smile came back, and he said:
“To fight for his life is a privilege which God gives to every man, Jimmy. I was terrified when I came to you. I believed it would have been better if you had died. I can see my error. It will be a terrible fight. If you win, I shall be glad. If you lose, I know that you will lose bravely. Perhaps you are right. It may be best to see Inspector Kedsty before you have had time to think. That point will have its psychological effect. Shall I tell him you are prepared to see him?”
Kent nodded. “Yes. Now.”
Father Layonne went to the door. Even there he seemed to hesitate an instant, as if again to call upon Kent to reconsider. Then he opened it and went out.
Kent waited impatiently. His hand, fumbling at his bedclothes, seized upon the cloth with which he had wiped his lips, and it suddenly occurred to him that it had been a long time since it had shown a fresh stain of blood. Now that he knew it was not a deadly thing, the tightening in his chest was less uncomfortable. He felt like getting up and meeting his visitors on his feet. Every nerve in his body wanted action, and the minutes of silence which followed the closing of the door after the missioner were drawn out and tedious to him. A quarter of an hour passed before he heard returning footsteps, and by the sound of them he knew Kedsty was not coming alone. Probably le pere would return with him. And possibly Cardigan.
What happened in the next few seconds was somewhat of a shock to him. Father Layonne entered first, and then came Inspector Kedsty. Kent’s eyes shot to the face of the commander of N Division. There was scarcely recognition in it. A mere inclination of the head, not enough to call a greeting, was the reply to Kent’s nod and salute. Never had he seen Kedsty’s face more like the face of an emotionless sphinx. But what disturbed him most was the presence of people he had not expected. Close behind Kedsty was McDougal, the magistrate, and behind McDougal entered Constables Felly and Brant, stiffly erect and clearly under orders. Cardigan, pale and uneasy, came in last, with the stenographer. Scarcely had they entered the room when Constable Pelly pronounced the formal warning of the Criminal Code of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, and Kent was legally under arrest.