“It is love or nothing,” said Bennington, turning his face toward Warrington. The smile he gave was kindly. “Yes, true happiness can be sought only in those we love. There is happiness even in loving some one who does not love you.” Bennington repressed a sigh. “But, Dick, you’ll be the best man?”
“Depend upon me. What do you say to this day week for breakfast here?”
“That will be wholly agreeable to me.”
Bennington’s cigar had gone out. He leaned upon the desk and took his light from the chimney. Men who have traveled widely never waste matches.
“Can’t you bunk here for the night? There’s plenty of room,” said Warrington.
“Impossible, Dick. I leave at midnight for home. I must be there to-morrow morning. I’m afraid of trouble in the shops. The unions are determined to push me to the limit of my patience.”
“Why the deuce don’t you get rid of the shops?”
“They’re the handiwork of my father, and I’m proud to follow his steps.” Bennington’s eyes were no longer at peace; they sparkled with defiance. “Half-past ten!” suddenly. “I must be going. My luggage is still at the hotel. God bless you, Dick!”
Their hands met once again.
“You know, jack, that I love you best of all men.”
“You are sure there is no woman?”
Warrington laughed easily. “Ah, if there was a woman! I expect to be lonely some day.”
Bennington put on his hat and gloves, and Warrington followed him into the hall. Once the prospective bridegroom paused, as if he had left something unsaid; but he seemed to think the better of silence, and went on.
“Tuesday morning, then?”
“Tuesday morning. Good night.”
“Good night, and luck attend you.”
The door closed, and Warrington went slowly back to his desk, his mind filled with pleasant recollections of youth. He re-read the letter, studied it thoroughly, in hopes that there might be an anagram. There was nothing he could see, and he put it away, rather annoyed. He arranged the sheets and notes of the scenario, marshaled the scattered pencils, and was putting the glasses on the tray, when a sound in the doorway caused him to lift his head. One of the glasses tumbled over and rolled across the desk, leaving a trail of water which found its level among the ash-trays.
“It is quite evident that you forgot me,” said the woman, a faint mirthless smile stirring her lips. “It was very close in there, and I could hear nothing.” She placed a hand on her forehead, swayed, and closed her eyes for a second.
“You are faint!” he cried, springing toward her.
“It is nothing,” she replied, with a repelling gesture. “John Bennington, was it not?”
“Yes.” His eyes grew round with wonder.
“I was going to keep it secret as long as I could, but I see it is useless. He is the man I have promised to marry.” Her voice had a singular quietness.