Heeding a warning not to bear arms through the streets of Panama without a permit from the alcalde, he struck off across the fields in a bee-line for the woods. It was a vast relief to be out in the open air with a gun upon his arm once more, and he felt his blood coursing vigorously. The burden upon his spirits insensibly began to lighten. After all, he had done nothing for which he needed to be ashamed the rest of his life. Edith, of course, was right in being deeply offended. That was to be expected. Yet his conduct, regrettable as it was, had been only natural under the circumstances. Now that the first tumult of feeling had subsided, he found that his conscience did not accuse him very severely.
And, somehow, he was unable to believe that the breach with Edith would prove irreparable. She was a sensible woman of the world— not a mere school-girl. Perhaps when the immediate shock of the occurrence had passed she would consent to take a different view of it, and they might return to their old friendly footing. If not—well, he would be his own man soon, anyhow. Their lives would part, and the incident would be forgotten. He was sorry that in his momentary madness he had behaved improperly toward a woman to whom he owed so much, yet it was not as if he had shown meanness or ingratitude.
Across the meadows deep in grass he went, skirting little ponds and marshy spots, growing more cheerful with every step. In one place he had the good-luck to raise a flock of water birds, which he took for purple gallinule and spur-wing plover, although they were unlike any he had ever seen. In some scattered groves beyond he bagged a pigeon and missed a quail which unexpectedly whirred out of a thicket. Then he continued past herds of grazing cattle to another patch of woodland, where he came upon something that looked like a path. Through rankly growing banana-patches, yam-fields, and groves of mango-trees, he followed it, penetrating ever deeper into the rolling country, until at last he reached the real forest. He had come several miles, and realized that he could not retrace his steps, for the trail had branched many times; he had crossed other pathways and made many devours. He rejoiced in the thought that he had successfully lost himself.
At midday he paused in an open glade against a hillside to eat his lunch. Back of him the rising ground was heavily timbered; beneath him a confusion of thickets and groves and cleared fields led out to a green plain as clean as any golf links, upon which were scattered dwellings.
Evidently this was the Savannas of which he had heard so much, and these foreign-looking bungalows were the country homes of the rich Panamanians. Beyond, the bay stretched, in unruffled calm, like a sheet of quicksilver, its bosom dotted with rocky islets, while hidden in the haze to the southward, as he knew, were the historic Pearl Islands, where the early Spaniards had enriched themselves.