“I’m going north to look up the members of my family and learn who I really am. I resigned from the Ranger force to-day. That’s no place for a fellow with a—homicidal mania.”
“Dave! You’re taking this thing too absolutely and too hard,” Ellsworth declared.
But Dave went on, unheeding. “Another reason why I want to get away now is that Alaire will expect me to come to her when she sends for me and—I wouldn’t dare trust myself.”
“Have you told her—written her?”
“Not yet, and I sha’n’t until I trace out the last doubt in my own mind.”
In an effort to cheer, Ellsworth put his arm about the sufferer’s shoulders. “I’m sure you’ll do the right thing, Dave,” he said. “Maybe, after all, your instinct is true and you’re not Frank Law’s boy. I hope so, for this thing weighs me down as it weighs you; but you mustn’t let it whip you. Don’t give in, and meanwhile, above all things, try to get some sleep.”
Dave nodded and mumbled something; then he slouched out, leaving the lawyer overcome by a great pity. Ellsworth had seen men, stunned by a court sentence, turn away from the bar with that same dumb, fixed look of hopelessness in their eyes. Impulsively he cursed the sense of duty that had prompted him to interfere.
The several days following Dave’s unexpected call at Las Palmas Alaire spent in a delightful reverie. She had so often wrestled with the question of divorce that she had begun to weary of it; and now, when she tried to summon energy to consider it anew, she found herself, as usual, reasoning in a circle and arriving at no decision. She gave up trying, at length, and for the time being rested content in the knowledge that she loved and was loved. In her heart she knew well enough what her ultimate course would be: sooner or later events would force her action. Yielding to a natural cowardice, therefore, she resigned herself to dreamy meditations and left the future to take care of itself. A week passed while she hugged her thoughts to her breast, and then one evening she rode home to learn that Ed had returned from San Antonio.
But Ed was ill, and he did not appear at dinner. It had been years since either had dared invade the other’s privacy, and now, inasmuch as her husband did not send for her, Alaire did not presume to offer her services as nurse. As a matter of fact, she considered this quite unnecessary, for she felt sure that he was either suffering the customary after-effects of a visit to the city or else that he lacked the moral courage to undertake an explanation of his hurried flight from the ranch. In either event she was glad he kept to his room.
Heretofore their formal relations had made life at least tolerable to Alaire, but now she experienced a feeling of guilt at finding herself under the same roof with him. Oddly enough, it seemed to her that in this she wronged Dave and not her husband; for she reasoned that, having given her love to one man, her presence in the same house with another outraged that love.