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