“Don’t be an ass,” Johnnie cried, impatiently. “What are we going to do with a woman on our hands?”
“We? Don’t divide her with me. What are you going to do? The truth is plain, this Miss Evans is in love with you and you don’t know it. She sees in you her soul mate. Well, if you don’t want her, I want her. I’ll eat her medicine. I’ll even—marry the poor old soul, if she’s rich.”
O’Reilly arose early the next morning and hurried down to the office of the Junta, hoping that he could convince Mr. Enriquez of the folly of allowing Norine Evans to have her way. By the light of day Miss Evans’s project seemed more hare-brained than ever, and he suspected that Enriquez had acquiesced in it only because of a natural inability to refuse anything to a pretty woman—that was typically Cuban. But his respect for Miss Evans’s energy and initiative deepened when, on arriving at 56 New Street, he discovered that she had forestalled him and was even then closeted with the man he had come to see. Johnnie waited uneasily; he was dismayed when the girl finally appeared, with Enriquez in tow, for the man’s face was radiant.
“It’s all settled,” she announced, at sight of O’Reilly. “I’ve speeded them up.”
“You’re an early riser,” the latter remarked. “I hardly expected— "
Enriquez broke in. “Such enthusiasm! Such ardor! She whirls a person off his feet.”
“It seems that the Junta lacks money for another expedition, so I’ve made up the deficit. We’ll be off in a week.”
“Really? Then you’re actually—going?”
“It was like a gift from Heaven,” Enriquez cried. “Our last embarrassment is removed, and—”
But Johnnie interrupted him. “You’re crazy, both of you,” he declared, irritably. “Cuba is no place for an American girl. I’m not thinking so much about the danger of capture on the way down as the hardship after she gets there and the fact that she will be thrown among all sorts of men.”
The elder man lifted his head. “Every Cuban will know who Miss Evans is, and what she has done for our cause. You do not seem to have a high regard for our chivalry, sir.”
“There!” Norine was triumphant.
“There is bound to be some danger, of course,” Enriquez continued, “for the coast is well patrolled; but once the expedition is landed, Miss Evans will be among friends. She will be as safe in our camps as if she were in her own home.”
“Don’t be hateful, and argumentative, or I’ll begin to think you’re a born chaperon,” Miss Evans exclaimed. “Come! Make up your mind to endure me. And now you’re going to help me buy my tropical outfit.”
With a smile and a nod at Enriquez she took O’Reilly’s arm and bore him away.