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

“If you have cut him off, why do you care what becomes of him?”

Darwin K. Anthony’s eyes dimmed, but his voice rose fiercely.  “He’s my boy, and I’ve a right to treat him any damned way I please, but nobody else is going to abuse him!  These Spaniards can’t do it!  I’ll teach them to lay hands on my—­boy.”  He tore a handkerchief from his pocket and blew a blast into it.  “I’ll tear their little Republic to pieces,” he shouted.  “I’ll buy the whole works and throw it away.  I’ll buy their President and their courts and their whole infernal population, and if they won’t sell I’ve got enough men to take it.  Hell’s bells, madam, do you think these little black people can shoot my son?  I don’t care what he’s done, they’ve got to give him up.  And he’s going back with me.  He’s going home; I—­I—­want him.”

“Why have you come to me?” she queried.

“Because you must know the truth, if anybody does, and I want your help.”  His voice softened suddenly, and he regarded her with a gentle kindness that was surprising.  “I’ve heard all about you and Kirk.  In fact, I’ve known what was going on all the time, for I’ve had a man on his track night and day.  You may know him—­Clifford?  Well, he followed Kirk that night after the supper to your husband, but Anson didn’t dare call him to the stand at the hearing for fear this Alfarez would perjure more of his black-and-tans.”  He ground his teeth in rage.  “By God!  I’ll get that Ramon, if it costs me a million—­they can’t stand for such things even here.  But I want more proof; I want to snow him under absolutely, completely.”

“So Clifford is your man?”

“Yes!  I took him off my system and sent him down here as soon as I got Kirk’s idiotic, impudent letter—­” The old man began to sputter with indignation.  “What d’you think he wrote me, Mrs. Cortlandt?  He had the impudence to turn down a good job I offered him because ‘his wife might not like our climate!’ Imagine!  And I had positively begged him to come back—­on any terms.  Of course, it gave me an awful scare, and I lost no time in learning if it was true.  Thank God, he had sense enough not to do that!”

“Then you don’t know?”

“Know what?”

“That he is married.”

Damnation!” roared Anthony, furiously.

She nodded.  “A Miss Garavel.  They were married a—­week ago.”  She broke down miserably and hid her face in her hands.  He strode to her with a light of understanding in his eyes.  Laying a great hand upon her drooping head, he exclaimed with wonderful softness: 

“My dear Mrs. Cortlandt, I’m very sorry for you, indeed I am.  How the boy ever let you go for any other woman I don’t see, but he’s always been a fool—­that’s why he never cared for me.  Now, now, try to face it squarely—­all good women are brave, and you’re a good woman.  We both love him, and I know we can save him if we pull together.”

“Yes, yes!” She raised her drawn, white face eagerly to his.  “It will only take a word, but I have been like a mad woman.  I couldn’t bear to give him up, and when I learned the truth I thought I could let him—­suffer.  But I couldn’t.  Oh, I couldn’t, and I knew it all the time.  I was distracted, that is all.  You see I have no shame in telling you this, for he is the first and only man—­”

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