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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 328 pages of information about Rainbow's End.

“Good heavens, no!  I’m having the time of my life.  I nearly died of curiosity at first—­until I found Major Ramos’s tongue.”

“Hm-m!  You found it, all right.  He appears to be completely conquered.”

“I-I’m afraid so,” the girl acknowledged, with a little grimace.  “You’d think he’d never seen a woman before.  He’s very—­intense.  Very!”

“You don’t expect me, as your chaperon, to approve of your behavior?  Why, you’ve been flirting outrageously.”

“I had to flirt a little:  I simply had to know what was going on.  But—­I fixed him.”

“Indeed?”

“I couldn’t let him spoil my fun, could I?  Of course not.  Well, I put a damper on him.  I told him about you—­about us.”

O’Reilly was puzzled.  “What do you mean?” he inquired.

“You won’t be angry, will you?  When he waxed romantic I told him he had come into my life too late.  I confessed that I was in love with another man—­with you.”  As her hearer drew back in dismay Miss Evans added, quickly, “Oh, don’t be frightened; that isn’t half—­”

“Of course you’re joking,” Johnnie stammered.

“Indeed I’m not.  I thought it would discourage him, but—­it didn’t.  So I told him a whopper.  I said we were engaged.”  The speaker tittered.  She was delighted with herself.

“Engaged?  To be married?”

“Certainly!  People aren’t engaged to—­to go fishing, are they?  I had to tell him something; he was getting positively feverish.  If he’d kept it up I’d have told him we were secretly married.”

“This may be funny,” the young man said, stiffly, “but I don’t see it.”

“Oh, don’t look so glum!  I’m not going to hold you to it, you know.  Why”—­Miss Evans’s bantering manner ceased, and she said, earnestly:  “Doctor Alvarado told me your story, and I think it is splendid.  I’m going to help you find that little Rosa, if you’ll let me.  You were thinking about her when I came up, weren’t you?”

Johnnie nodded.

“You—­might talk to me about her, if you care to.”

O’Reilly’s voice was husky and low as he said:  “I daren’t trust myself.  I’m afraid.  She’s so young, so sweet, so beautiful—­and these are war-times.  I’m almost afraid to think—­”

Norine saw her companion’s cheeks blanch slowly, saw his laughing eyes grow grave, saw the muscular brown hand upon the rail tighten until the knuckles were white; impulsively she laid her palm over his.

“Don’t let yourself worry,” she said.  “If money would buy her safety you could have all that I have.  Just be brave and true and patient, and you’ll find her.  I’m sure you will.  And in the mean time don’t mind my frivolity; it’s just my way.  You see this is my first taste of life, and it has gone to my head.”

XVI

THE CITY AMONG THE LEAVES

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