The priest did as he was directed, and his audience signified their understanding. Then Dolores led them out
THE MAN OF DESTINY
“Now, then, I’ll explain,” said Alaire, turning to the men. “Longorio declares he won’t have me except as his wife, and I think he means it. He is amazingly egotistical. He has tremendous ambitions. He thinks this war is his great opportunity, and he means to be President—he’s sure of it. He loves me, but he loves himself better, I’m sure. Now, don’t you see? He’ll have to choose one or the other.”
Father O’Malley did not appear to appreciate the full force of this reasoning. “My dear,” he said, gravely, “he can make you a widow again. In such times as these men are savages.”
“Oh, but that’s not all.” Alaire turned to her newly made husband. “They let you in, and they’ll let you out again—if you go quickly, before it’s known what we’ve done.”
Dave stared at her in bewilderment. “I? I go, and—leave you?” He seemed doubtful of her sanity.
“Yes.” When he laughed shortly, Alaire cried: “Dave, you must! Don’t you see what I’m driving at? If he can’t marry me, if he finds you’re gone and he can’t lay hands on you, what can he do but let me go? Dave dear, for my sake, for the sake of us both—”
“You’re excited,” he told her, and drew her to himself gently.
“Please! Please!” she implored.
“You don’t know that man,” said Father O’Malley, with conviction.
But Alaire insisted, half hysterically now: “I do; that’s just it, I do know him. He is planning the greatest things for himself, his head is in the clouds, and he daren’t do the things he used to do. That’s why I called in those women as witnesses. He can’t put them out of the way. With Dave gone I’ll be safe. He can’t ignore our marriage. But otherwise—There’s no telling what he may do. Why, he’ll kill you, Dave, as he killed Ed.” She upturned a face eloquent with pleading. “Won’t you do this for me?”
“No!” Law declared, firmly. “You wouldn’t ask it if you were in your senses. Get me a gun and I’ll shoot my way out. We’ll go until they stop us. But don’t ask me to leave you.”
She searched his face eagerly, piteously, then with a quivering sigh relaxed her tension. “Then we’ve only made matters worse. You’ve spoiled our only chance.”
Father O’Malley, who had been lost in thought, spoke up again: “Perhaps you will let me try my wits. But first, do I understand that it was he who effected the death of—Mr. Austin?”
Dave recounted as coherently as he could the circumstances of Ed’s death, and told how he had learned, through Jose, of Longorio’s intentions. As the priest listened a spot of color grew in his cheeks, his eyes glowed with indignation. He was about to make known what was in his mind when Alaire raised her hand and in a strained whisper exclaimed: