He could not go away. He had promised her to stay: he was needed. He
thought he could have endured seeing her marry Joe, had she cared for the
boy. That way, at least, lay safety for her. The boy had fidelity and
devotion written large over him. But this new complication--her romantic
interest in Wilson, the surgeon's reciprocal interest in her, with what he
knew of the man--made him quail.
From the top of the narrow staircase to the foot, and he had lived a year's
torment! At the foot, however, he was startled out of his reverie. Joe
Drummond stood there waiting for him, his blue eyes recklessly alight.
"You--you dog!" said Joe.
There were people in the hotel parlor. Le Moyne took the frenzied boy by
the elbow and led him past the door to the empty porch.
"Now," he said, "if you will keep your voice down, I'll listen to what you
have to say."
"You know what I've got to say."
This failing to draw from K. Le Moyne anything but his steady glance, Joe
jerked his arm free, and clenched his fist.
"What did you bring her out here for?"
"I do not know that I owe you any explanation, but I am willing to give you
one. I brought her out here for a trolley ride and a picnic luncheon.
Incidentally we brought the ground squirrel out and set him free."
He was sorry for the boy. Life not having been all beer and skittles to
him, he knew that Joe was suffering, and was marvelously patient with him.
"Where is she now?"
"She had the misfortune to fall in the river. She is upstairs." And,
seeing the light of unbelief in Joe's eyes: "If you care to make a tour of
investigation, you will find that I am entirely truthful. In the laundry a
"She is engaged to me"--doggedly. "Everybody in the neighborhood knows it;
and yet you bring her out here for a picnic! It's--it's damned rotten
His fist had unclenched. Before K. Le Moyne's eyes his own fell. He felt
suddenly young and futile; his just rage turned to blustering in his ears.
"Now, be honest with yourself. Is there really an engagement?"
"Even in that case, isn't it rather arrogant to say that--that the young
lady in question can accept no ordinary friendly attentions from another
Utter astonishment left Joe almost speechless. The Street, of course,
regarded an engagement as a setting aside of the affianced couple, an
isolation of two, than which marriage itself was not more a solitude a
deux. After a moment:-"I don't know where you came from," he said, "but around here decent men
cut out when a girl's engaged."