The Green Ruby by George Barr McCutcheon

He was a very good-looking chap—this Cannable who lived in the civilised city of New Orleans. It is quite true that he came from an island in the sea, but as that island is known to geographers, great and small, as England, it is scarcely worth while to mention his migration as an achievement of civilisation. Moreover, it was known that he had eaten of human flesh, but it was not with the gusto of those ancient Fijis who banqueted on salubrious sailors and munchable ministers whenever they had the simultaneous chance and appetite.

He was one of three survivors of the ill-fated Graceby polar expedition, and as such he had been obliged to subsist for some days on whatsoever was set before him by the cook, a discreet but overpowering person who certainly would have been the sole survivor if the relief expedition had been delayed a few days longer. But that portion of Mr. Cannable's history sounds much better in whispers and it does not look pretty in print. He never repeated it of his own accord. The newspapers told it for him when he was too weak and exhausted to deny or affirm.

His uncle, Sir John Bolingbroke, sent him out from London soon after his return from the frozen North to represent great financial interests on the Cotton Exchange at New Orleans. For two years the young man stuck manfully to his post in the southern city, but it was an irksome restraint to one whose heart was turbulent with the love of travel and adventure. Just at the time when he was ready to resign his position and hie himself into the jungles of the Amazon on an exploring expedition two things happened, either of which was in itself sufficient to stay him for the while. In the first place, his uncle died and left him two hundred thousand pounds in good English money, and in the second place he met Agatha Holmes.

The two hundred thousand pounds, it is but just to say, might not have kept him from the equator, but it is doubtful if all, much less any specific portion of the globe, could have induced him to leave Agatha Holmes. And so it was that Mr. James Cannable—for short "Jimmy"—remained in New Orleans for many months, estimably employed in the business of evolving a plan that might permit him to journey to the world's end with two hundred thousand pounds in one hand and a certain girl's future in the other.

The months and the plans were profitable, it seems, for one splendid evening saw him at the altar-rail beside the fairest girl in all the Southland, the queen of a thousand hearts. Agatha Holmes became Mrs. Cannable, and thereby hangs a tale. It would appear, from all the current but unpublished records of social Louisiana, that Agatha had gone about shattering hearts in a most unintentional but effective fashion up to the time Mr. Jimmy Cannable refused to be routed. Certainly it is no blot upon this fair young coquette's fame to admit that she had plighted herself to at least four ardent suitors in days gone by, and it was equally her own affair if she took every woman's privilege of shifting her fancy before she was ready to marry.

Unluckily for Agatha, however, she neglected to disengage herself properly from the most recent suitor next before Mr. Cannable. So far as that worthy was concerned the engagement still obtained, for he, poor chap, was down in Patagonia somewhere surveying for railroads and did not have the slightest means of ascertaining her change of affection. How was he to know that she had married Jimmy Cannable, and how was he to know that she had forgotten his very existence without a single pang of remorse? He only knew that he had starved himself to give her a diamond ring, to say nothing of the wonderful old ruby heirloom that had been in the family for centuries.

He told her at parting that no power on earth could keep him from some day reclaiming the heirloom and with it the hand of the girl who was to wear it all her life.

One day, out of the past and up from the wilds, came the word that Harry Green was on his way home after an absence of three years. Agatha Holmes had been Mrs. Cannable for three months and she had forgotten young Mr. Green as completely as if he never had been a part of her memory. A cablegram addressed to Agatha Holmes one day was delivered to Agatha Cannable. It simply said: "Am coming back at last for the ruby. Harry," and it was sent from London. She found herself wondering what he was doing in England and how long it would be before he could reach New Orleans, but it did not dawn upon her for three full days that he still imagined himself to be her tardy but accepted fiance. Then in the fulness of her joy she sat down and laughed over his amazement—perhaps his chagrin—when he learned that she was another man's wife.

At first thought she decided to tell Jimmy the news, permitting him to enjoy the fun as well, but the discretion which shapes woman's ends forestalled the impulse. There was much she could not explain in justice to herself, to say nothing of the other man who had gone away with her in his heart. True, it may not have been difficult to hold her immaculate in a heart surrounded by Patagonians, but there was something disturbing in the fact that he had been constant, after all. She recalled, with a slight shiver (which grew with time, by the way), that she had sworn to kill herself rather than to marry any one but Harry Green. It also came back to her memory that the hot-blooded Harry had promised faithfully, though fiercely, that he would accomplish that end for her in case she violated her oath.

It is sufficient to say that she was the most wretched young woman in New Orleans by the time Harry Green landed in New York. He telegraphed to her, announcing his arrival and his hasty departure for the Southern metropolis. Somehow the slip of paper read like a death-warrant to her peace of mind.

"How annoying it is to have an old affair revived like this," she wailed to herself. "Why couldn't he, too, have married some one else? How, in Heaven's name, will it end?" She thought of a thousand subterfuges through which she might avoid seeing him, but put them all aside with the recollection of his indomitable will. He would see her sooner or later; the inevitable could not be avoided.

She finally took to her bed with daily headaches, distractedly but stealthily studying a railroad time-table.

"He's leaving New York by this time. Good Heaven, he'll be in Mobile by one o'clock tomorrow, Pass Christian a few minutes later—oh, dear, I wonder if he will be terribly violent! Jimmy is noticing, too. He says I'm ill. He wants to take me to California, but I don't dare—I don't dare! Harry Green would be sure to follow. I know him—oh, how well I know him! He would—"

A servant came in to announce that Miss Carrithers was down stairs.

"Ask her to come up," sighed Agatha. "I'll tell her myself that I don't want to see her, but it won't mean anything to Betty. She'll stay all morning."

"Yes, ma'am," agreed the maid as she hurried away. A moment later Miss Carrithers fairly bounded into the darkened bed-chamber, her face full of excitement.

"Have you heard?" she gasped, dropping upon the side of the bed. "Harry
Green's coming home. He's in New York now. Joe Pierce had a telegram."

"Yes, I know," said Agatha drearily.

"Have you heard from him—you?" demanded Miss Betty in amazement—and some little concern.

"Of course, Betty; why shouldn't I?" irritably.

"Oh, I suppose it's all right," said the other dubiously. "I was only thinking of the—of the old days."

"Betty," said Mrs. Cannable, sitting up suddenly and grasping her friend's hand, "I'm the most wretched creature on earth. I don't know what I'm to do."

"Is it about—about Harry Green?" "Yes. You see, dear, he—he doesn't know I'm married."

"Goodness, Agatha! You don't mean he—he still thinks you are engaged to marry him?"

"That's just it, Betty. I didn't tell him—in fact, I had forgotten all about him, away down there in Patagonia, wherever it is. He—"

"And, oh, he was so terribly in love with you—and you with him, too!"

"No, no; don't say that. It was so foolish. Besides, he's been gone nearly three years. How could he expect me to wait all that time? I haven't had a letter from him for more than a year. I counted it up today."

"Does Jimmy Cannable know about—him?"

"I don't know and I'm afraid to ask."

"Harry's a frightfully determined person," mused Betty Carrithers reflectively.

"He swore I should be his wife if we waited a thousand years."

"That's the one thing in your favour. When they swear such things as that they can't possibly mean all they say," said Miss Betty sagely. She was the prettiest and most popular girl in town, but she was a wise body for all that. Her trim little figure was surcharged with a magnetism that thrilled one to the very core; her brown eyes danced ruthlessly through one's most stubborn defences; her smile and her frown were the thermometers by which masculine emotions could be gauged at a glance. "It will be rather difficult to face him, won't it?"

"Betty, it's simply impossible! Think of Harry Green waiting all these years, believing in me, as constant as the sun—and then to find I've married some one else. You know I love Jimmy Cannable with all my heart. I can't bear the thought of what might happen if he and Harry quarrelled about—about those old days."

"Don't cry—don't be a goose! It's the commonest thing in the world.
Every girl has had dozens of affairs."

"I know, but not just like this one. My husband wants to take me to California. I wish—oh, how I wish I could go! But Harry would follow—I know he'll be merciless."

Miss Carrithers was thoughtful for several minutes, paying slight heed to the doleful sobs from the bed.

"I'll tell you what, Agatha," she said at last; "I believe this affair can be managed easily enough if you will just leave town."

"Oh, Betty!" sitting up and looking at her friend hopefully.

"Of course, I never had a chance at Harry Green. You monopolised him. I liked him immensely—from a distance. You go away, and let me explain the situation to him."

It was the straw that the drowning person grasps, and Mrs. Cannable clutched it with a shriek of delight. She poured her story into the ears of her too loyal friend, who smiled confidently in response to her apprehensions.

Miss Carrithers did not exchange confidences, however; she merely gave promises to do her best. She was shrewd enough to know that if she confessed to Agatha that she had cared for Harry Green—from a distance—that capricious and perverse young person would have declined to retire from the field of strife. After all, Betty admitted to herself, it was not wholly a service of sacrifice she was granting her friend. There was something of a selfish motive in her loyalty.

"I'll love you forever if you will explain everything and send him away," said Agatha in the end.

"At least, I shall explain everything," agreed Betty complacently. Agatha blushed consciously as she drew a small diamond from among those on her fingers.

"I didn't know his address, so you see I couldn't send it back to him," she explained. "And, Betty, if you'll hand me my jewel box I'll ask you to return that—er—you remember my old ruby pendant!"

"Was—that—did he give it to you?"

"Yes. You don't know how I hate to give it up. Isn't it beautiful?" She reluctantly let the ruby slip from her fingers into those of her friend.

"Perfectly gorgeous," said Betty, fastening it about her neck and surveying herself in the cheval glass. "I'd give anything if it belonged to me."

"Now, excuse me a minute, dear. I'll telephone to Jimmy and tell him we'll start for California tonight. Harry gets here tomorrow at 4:45 on the limited."

"You can be well out of the way by that time," said pretty Miss
Carrithers with a smile.

"And now, Betty, you will send him back to Patagonia, won't you?"

"I'll keep him away from California, my dear, that's all."

Miss Carrithers sat in her carriage outside the railroad station, waiting for the train that was to bring Harry Green into New Orleans. Outwardly she was cool, placid; inwardly she was a fever of emotions. He had telegraphed the time of his arrival to Agatha; Betty received and read the message. Mr. and Mrs. Cannable were miles westward, hurrying to California. It was one thing to say she would take certain responsibilities off the hands of the bride; it was altogether another proposition to sit there and wait for the man she had admired for four or five years with a constancy that surprised even herself. Her reflections at this specific hour were scarcely definable. Chief among them was a doubt—this doubt: Would Harry Green remember her? It seemed such an absurd doubt that she laughed at it—and yet cultivated it with distracting persistency.

The train was ten minutes late. A newsboy had made two trips to the train-board in quest of information. When the big locomotive finally thundered and hissed its way to a stand-still near the gates, Canal Street seemed to have become a maze of indefinite avenues, so dizzy had she grown of a sudden. Her eyes searched the throng that swept through the gates; at last she saw him approaching.

She had expected a tired, worn man, unfashionably dressed, eager-eyed and wistful. Instead, the tall fellow who came forth was attired in the most modern English garments; he was brown, fresh-faced, keen-eyed and prosperous looking. The same old Harry Green grown stronger, handsomer, more polished. His black eyes were sweeping the street anxiously as if in search of some one. He did not see Betty Carrithers, and her heart sank.

Behind him stalked two gigantic negroes. They were the centre of all observation. People stared at the blacks who carried Harry Green's bags as if they were looking upon creatures just out of an Arabian Night's tale. Nearly seven feet tall and of Herculean proportions were these giants. It is no wonder that the crowd gaped and felt something like awe mingling with curiosity.

Mr. Green, erstwhile Patagonian surveyor, started at the sound of a soft voice close at hand, a voice in which grateful surprise was uppermost.

"Why, Harry Green! How do you do!" He turned and beheld Miss Carrithers. She was leaning forward in her carriage, her little gloved hand extended toward him impulsively. She was amazed to see a look of relief flash in his eyes. His smile was broad and wholesome as he gripped the little hand in a mighty brown one.

"Betty Carrithers!" he exclaimed. "Now, this is like home! By George, you haven't changed a bit."

"Don't you think so!" She flushed. "It's been several years, you know.
A woman can change terribly in—"

"Ah, but you've just changed into a woman."

"And what a man you've grown to be," admiringly.

"I hope so. Patagonia would make a man of any one. Are you expecting some one?"

"I was; but I see every one has come out. Won't you let me take you up town? Goodness, who are those awful giants that stand over there all the time like guards?"

"They're from Patagonia. Call them anything you like; they don't understand English. They are my men of all work. Thanks, I will ride up with you. Tell him to stop at the St. Charles." Then he turned and spoke to the giants, who solemnly nodded their heads and climbed into a cab close by. Green seated himself beside Miss Carrithers. There was a hunted look in his eyes and a nervous tremor in his voice. "A sort of bodyguard, as it were, Betty. By the way, you haven't seen Agatha Holmes, have you? I telegraphed to her."

Miss Carrithers had braced herself for this question and she also had prepared an answer. She could not look at his face, however, despite her determination.

"Agatha Holmes! Is it possible you haven't heard? Don't you know that—that she is married?"

She knew in her heart it was a cruel blow, but it was the best way, after all. Instinctively she felt that he had ceased breathing, that his body was stiffening under the shock, that his eyes were staring at her unbelievingly. Imagine her surprise, even consternation, when, after a breathless moment, his tremendous sigh of relief was followed by the most cheerful of remarks.

"Good Lord!" he fairly gasped, "that simplifies matters!"

She turned like a flash and found his face radiant with joy. It was hard for her to believe her own senses. He actually was rejoicing; she had expected him to groan with despair. It is no wonder that her plan of action was demolished on the instant; it is not surprising that every vestige of resourcefulness was swept away by this amazing reverse. She stared at him so pathetically, so helplessly, that he laughed aloud.

"I know what you're thinking," he said, and there was no mistaking the lightness of his heart. "I don't blame you for being shocked if you thought I had come back to such a fate as you evidently pictured. Betty, by Jove, you'll never know how happy you've made me!"

"I—I am surprised. Agatha told me that you—you—"

"And she's really married? Never mind what she told you. It doesn't matter now. Is she happy?"

"She adores her husband—young Jimmy Cannable. You know him. She will be crazy with joy, Harry, when she finds out that you, too, are happy. She was half mad with remorse and all that. It will—"

"Heavens, Betty, I thought I was the remorseful one. By George, I love you for telling me this!"

A shocking suspicion hurtled through her brain.

"You mean, there is—another woman?" she said with a brave effort. She even smiled accusingly.

"Some day I'll tell you all about it," he said evasively. "I—I suppose it would be all right for me to go round and call on Agatha this evening."

"She is not in town. California," said Betty.

"Great Scott! In California?" The dismay in his face was even greater than the relief of the moment before.

"Not exactly. She's on her way."

"By George, I wonder if I can catch her by wire? I must—I really must see her." He was so agitated that she observed beads of perspiration starting on his brow. She was mystified beyond description. Was he, after all, she found herself wondering, playing a part? Was it in his crafty heart to follow and kill Agatha Holmes!

"Oh, no,—you can't do that," she protested quickly. "Won't you—come out to dinner tonight?" she added somewhat confusedly. "We can talk over old times."

"Thanks, Betty, but I can't." At the same time he glanced uneasily at a cab which drove along close behind them.

"You were going to call upon Agatha," she pouted.

"But not at dinner-time," he said, mopping his brow. "I'll come up about nine, if I may."

He came at nine, a trifle out of breath and uneasy in his manner. The great Green ruby hung from the chain that encircled Betty's slim, pretty neck. Its soft red eye glowed like a coal against the white skin, but if she thought to surprise him with it, she was to be disappointed. He did not look at it.

She did not know at the time that a giant Patagonian stood beneath the gas lamp at the corner above the Carrithers mansion in St. Charles Avenue. His gaunt, dark face was turned toward her doorway and his fierce eyes seemed to bore holes through the solid oak.

"I can't stay very late," he said almost as he responded to the greeting. "Confounded business engagement. Where is Agatha to stay in California?"

"I don't know. It wasn't decided. Perhaps they'll go to Japan."

"Good Lord!"

"You seem terribly interested, for a man who doesn't care," she said.

"I should say I am interested—but not in the way you think." After a moment's reflection, as he stood looking down upon her, he went on excitedly, "I'll tell you something, Betty. You're a good sort, and you can keep a secret as long as any woman—which isn't long, of course. But it will be long enough for me to get out of town first. I must go to California tomorrow. Wait! Don't look like that! I'm not going to annoy Agatha. She'll understand when she hears what I have to say. Have you ever noticed the ruby pendant that she wears—or wore, perhaps?"

"The big one she called her 'coal of fire' because it burned her conscience so terribly? Yes."

"Well, I gave it to her. I've just got to have it back. That's the whole story. That's what I'm here for. That's why that awful black devil is standing out there on the corner. See him? Under the gas lamp?" He drew the curtains aside and she peeped out. "He's waiting for me."

"What does it mean?" she cried, with a nameless dread creeping over her.

"He is there in the interest of my father-in-law," said Mr. Green.

"You—-your father-in-law?" she gasped, staring at him wildly.

"Yes—my wife's father," he said somewhat plaintively. He sat down near her, a nervous unsettled look in his eyes. She felt her heart turn cold; something seemed to be tightening about her throat. The light of hope that had been fanning began to flicker its way to extinction.

"You are married?" came from her stiff lips.

"Yes," he replied doggedly. "A year ago, Betty. I—I did not write to Agatha about it because I—I hoped that she'd never know how false I was to my promise. But, she's done the same thing; that takes a terrible load off my mind. I feared that I might find her waiting, you know. It would have been hard to break it to her, don't you see?"

To his amazement, she laughed shrilly, almost hysterically. In the flash of a moment's time, her feeling toward Harry Green began to undergo a change. It was not due to the realisation that she had lost all hope of having him for her own; it was, instead, the discovery that her small girlish love for him had been the most trivial of infatuations and not real passion. She laughed because she had pitied Agatha and Green and herself; she laughed, moreover, in memory of her deliberate eagerness to assume Agatha's burdens for purely selfish reasons.

"I know it's amusing to you," he agreed with a wry smile. "Everything amused you, as I remember, Betty. Do you remember that night in Condit's conservatory when you and I were hiding from—"

"Don't, please!" she objected, catching her breath painfully. "I was a foolish girl then, Harry. But tell me all about your—your wife. I am crazy to know."

He looked involuntarily toward the window before replying; she observed the hunted look in his eyes and wondered.

"There isn't much to tell. She lives in Patagonia," he said, somewhat sullenly. Then he glanced at his watch.

"What! Is she a—a native?" she cried.

"She was born there, but—Good Lord, you don't think she's black?"

"Or even a giantess," she smiled.

"She's white, of course, and she's no bigger than you, Betty. She isn't
as pretty, I'll have to say that. But let's talk about something else.
How am I to catch Agatha? It's imperative. 'Gad, it's life or death,

"What do you mean?" she asked, startled.

He swallowed painfully two or three times as he scraped the edge of the rug with his foot, looking down all the while.

"Well, you see, it's this way. I've married into a rather queer family.
My—my wife's most damnably jealous."

"That isn't very queer, is it?"

"She has a queer way of being jealous, that's all. Somehow she's got it into her head that there's another woman up here in North America."

"Oh, I begin to see. And, of course, there isn't?"

"Certainly not. I love my wife."

"Good for you, Harry. I didn't think it of you," she said with a smile which he did not understand.

"Oh, I say, Betty, you are making fun of me."

"On the contrary, I'm just beginning to treat you seriously."

"I suppose I owe some sort of an explanation in connection with my remark about jealousy. It's due my wife."

"May I ask where she is at present?"

"She's on the range in Patagonia. I—I couldn't bring her here, you know. Betty, I want you to help me with Agatha. She's got that ruby and I simply have to get it back again. I'll tell you all about—about my marriage. Perhaps you'll understand. You see, I meant to be true to Agatha. But it was so cursed lonesome down there—worse than Siberia or mid-ocean. We were surveying near the west coast—rotten country—and I met her at her father's place. You see, they raise cattle and all that sort of thing there. Her old man—I should say Mr. Grimes—is the cattle king of Patagonia. He's worth a couple of millions easy. Well, to make a long story short, we all fell in love with Pansy—the whole engineering corps—and I won out. She's the only child and she's motherless. The old man idolises her. She's fairly good-looking and—well, she's being educated by private tutors from Buenos Aires. I'm not a cad to tell you. She's pure gold in spite of her environment."

"No doubt, if she's surrounded by millions."

"Don't be sarcastic. Some day she'll come in for the old man's money. She'll be educated by that time and as good as anybody. Then we'll come back to the States and she'll—well, you'll see. The only trouble is that she thinks there's a woman up here that I loved before I loved her. One day, shortly after we were married, she found a photograph of Agatha which I'd always carried around in my trunk. It was the picture in which she wore the Green ruby. Don't you remember it? Well, you can't imagine how she carried on. She acted like a sav—but I won't say it. She has had no advantages—yet, and she's a bit untrained in the ways of the world. Of course, she hated Agatha's face because it was beautiful. She complained to the old man. The worst of it all is that I had already shown her a picture of the ruby, taken from that eastern magazine, and she recognised it as the one on Agatha's neck. "Well, you should have heard the old—my father-in-law! Phew!"

"What did he say?" asked Betty, pitying him.

"I can't repeat it. He went on at a fearful rate about fellows of my stripe having wives in other parts of the world, and he was in a condition to commit murder before he got through. It all ended with a monstrous demand from my wife. She commanded me to produce the pendant. By George, Betty, I was in a frightful mess!

"I could only say it was in New Orleans. The old man looked holes through me and said he'd give me four months in which to produce it. Anything that Pansy demanded he'd see that she got it, if he had to shoot his way to it. You ought to see him! And, incidentally, she can shoot like Buffalo Bill herself. She shot a gaucho through the neck half a mile away."

"A gaucho?"

"Yes—a cowherder. Hang it, everybody carries a gun down there. Now you know why I'm here. The old man said if I didn't bring that ruby to my wife in a given time he'd find me and shoot me full of holes. She loves me, but she said she'd do the same thing. I've just got to have that ruby. They mean it."

"You poor boy," said Betty scornfully. "And I was feeling so sorry for you because of Agatha."

"It's no joke, Betty. These big blacks are my servants for appearance's sake only. They are in reality my keepers. The old man sent them along to see that I did come back, one way or another. They'd just as soon throttle me as eat."

"It would be easy to lose them up here, I should say."

"Well, I reckon you don't know a Patagonian. They can scent like a bloodhound and they never give up. Those fellows are here to attend to me, and they'll do it, never fear. Either one of them could thrash half the police in New Orleans. They are terrible! There's no escape from them. I'd thought of something desperate but—but Grimes himself is to be reckoned with. Sometimes I—I almost wish I hadn't won out."

"But think of the millions."

"The only thing I can think of, Betty, is that miserable ruby. I've got to recover it and sail for South America inside of ten days. And she's in California! Did you ever hear of such luck?"

Betty Carrithers walked over and looked from the window. The giant black was still under the street lamp and she could not repress a shudder as she glanced from time to time to the man on the couch. A feeling of pity arose in her breast. Harry Green was unworthy, after all. He was not what he had seemed to be to her in those days of her teens. He was no longer an idol; her worshipful hours were ended. Instead, he was a weak, cringing being in the guise of a strong attractive man; he had been even more false than Agatha, and he had not the excuse of love to offer in extenuation. Pity and loathing fought for supremacy. Something was shattered, and she felt lonely yet relieved. Strangely, she seemed content in the discovery.

He was leaning forward, staring blankly at the rug, when she turned to resume her seat. A haggard face was raised to hers and his hand trembled as he jerked out his watch for the fourth time since entering the room.

"I'm a bit nervous," said he. "Time flies."

"Do you remember the fairy princesses of your childhood books?" she asked suddenly. "What would you say if one should quickly appear in real life?"

"What do you mean?"

"Outside stands the terrible ogre, ready to eat you up. Permit me to appear before you as the fairy princess. I can save you from death. My only regret is that I can not provide you with an enchanted tapestry, to waft you back to your lady love in the beautiful land of Patagonia. Here, behold! I restore to you the wonderful ruby!"

She unclasped the chain and dropped the great jewel into his shaking hand. He turned deathly white and then leaped up with a shout of incredulous joy. A hundred questions flew to his lips, faster than she could answer. She allowed him to babble on disjointedly for some time.

"Isn't it sufficient that I restore it to you? Why ask questions? It was my commission to do this thing. I'll confess it hasn't happened just as I anticipated, but what of that? Doubtless you recall this ring also. I think it signified an engagement. Take it. There may come a day when it will be ornamental as well as useful to your wife." He accepted the solitaire which she drew from her finger. His face was a study.

"Betty," he said, puzzled and helpless, "it—it isn't possible that it was you instead of Agatha that I gave these things to? I had typhoid fever down there. There are a lot of things I don't remember since then. It wasn't you, of course."

She laughed in his perplexed face—a good-humoured, buoyant laugh.

"If you can't remember, Harry, I shan't enlighten you. You have the ruby, isn't that enough?"

Ten minutes later he said good-bye to her and sallied forth into the night. She stood in the window and watched the huge sentinel stride off behind him like a gaunt shadow which could not be shaken off. That figure and another like it were to cling to his heels until he came to his journey's end. She smiled and shook her head pityingly as Harry Green passed out of her life at the corner below.

In her own room shortly afterward she took an old photograph from a drawer, looked at it a moment with a smile on her lips, and then tore it into many pieces.

"The strangest part of it is that I don't seem to mind," she said to herself, and that night she slept peacefully.