The Ne'er-Do-Well eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 342 pages of information about The Ne'er-Do-Well.

Now that the full import of Cortlandt’s accusation had sunk into his mind, Kirk lapsed into a mood of sullen bitterness.  He said little, but his set face worried his companion, who was loath to bid him goodnight even when they were close to the Tivoli.  After they had parted Runnels was upon the point of going back and offering to spend the night with him, but thought better of it.  After all, he reflected, his apprehensions were probably quite unfounded.  Anthony was too sensible a chap to do anything he might repent of, now that his gust of passion had died down.  So he went on homeward wondering vaguely how Cortlandt would dare to meet his wife, or, if he really found himself mistaken, how he could ever summon courage to look his hosts in the face.

Instead of passing through the office, Kirk mounted to the porch of the Tivoli and entered his room from the outside, as he and Chiquita had done earlier that evening.  He found Allan waiting, and bursting with a desire to gossip, but cut him short.

“Get my street-clothes, I’m going out.”  He tore the white tie from his throat as if it were choking him.

“It is too late, sar.  You will be h’exposing yourself to a fever in the mist,” expostulated the boy; but Kirk would not hear argument.

“Come along if you want to, I can’t sleep.  I want to walk—­walk until I’m tired.”

Mystified and frightened at this behavior, Allan obeyed.  “Never have I h’observed you so h’angry, boss,” he observed.  “Is it Ramon Alfarez?” His eyes began to roll in excitement, for the spectacle of his master’s agitation never failed to work upon him powerfully.

“No, not Ramon; another.  I’ve been hurt, Allan.  I can’t explain, for you wouldn’t understand, but I’ve been hurt.”

The negro’s lips drew apart in an expression of ape-like ferocity, and he began to chatter threats of vengeance, to which Kirk paid little heed.  A few moments later they went out quietly, and together took the rock road down toward the city, the one silent and desperate, the other whining like a hound nearing a scent.

XXVII

A QUESTION

Edith Cortlandt did not retire immediately upon her return from the ball.  Her anger at Anthony’s behavior kept her wakeful, and the night had turned off so dead and humid that sleep was in any case a doubtful possibility.  It was the lifeless period between seasons when the trades had died out, or, at best, veered about bafflingly, too faint to offer relief.  The cooling rains had not set in as yet, and a great blanket of heat wrapped the city in its smothering folds.  The air was still and tainted, like that of a sick-room.  Through Mrs. Cortlandt’s open windows came hardly a sound; even from the sea below rose only a faint hissing, as if the rocks at the water’s edge were superheated.  Earlier in the evening the temperature had been bearable, but now it had reached an intensity to strain tired nerves to the snapping-point.  It was the sort of night in which ailing children die and strong minds feel the burden of living.  No relief was to be had, and the slightest physical effort was a misery.

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The Ne'er-Do-Well from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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