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CHAPTER XI THE RIDE HOME
Hickey brought the flivver round to the front door again. As Amy got in and saw Greg preparing to follow, she said with a great air of surprise:

"Oh, you're not coming."

"Why, of course I am," said Greg with a surprised air as good as hers. "Why not?"

"But it isn't in the least necessary. I came alone."

"I know. But I want to come."

"Oh, thank you, but I don't think you'd better."

"I'm coming," said Greg doggedly, and got in and closed the door.

She drew stiffly into her own corner, and stared out of the window. Greg not at all sure of his ground was nevertheless doggedly determined to see the thing through. His peace of mind demanded that he come to some kind of an understanding with her.

They rode for five blocks in silence.

Finally Greg said: "Why do you treat me so?"

It then appeared that this young lady who claimed to be an American still retained a considerable share of the fiery Latin temperament. "Treat you so!" she burst out. "Treat you so! How about the way you treat me! I showed you as plainly as I could that I didn't want you to come. What do you wish me to suppose when you come anyway? Do you wish to remind me that it is your cab, and you have a right to come?"

"But why?" stammered poor Greg. "What have I done since earlier to-night. Why didn't you want me to come?"

"Need you ask that?"

"I must ask it. What have I done?"

"Nothing. Men can be very dense when they wish to be!"

"I don't understand. Unless I have offended you in some way——"

"Well, I can't be riding around in taxi-cabs at one o'clock in the morning with a strange man, can I?"

"Oho!" said Greg, a great light breaking upon him. "But that's ridiculous!" he added presently.

"Thank you," she said acidly.

"But you rode around with me the other night later than this and thought nothing of it."

"That was different."

"And if we are engaged together in a serious affair, it is ridiculous to say that we may not be alone together."

"Oh, if you wish to be insulting now——"

The inconsistency of the reason she gave was such that Greg saw at once that she had some other reason. It turned a little knife in his breast. "I think I understand," he said bitterly.

"What do you think you understand?"

"You did not tell me your whole story to-night."

"I told you everything that bore upon the affair of my uncle and Francisco."

"You did not tell me you were engaged."

"What has that got to do with it?"

"You are engaged then?"

"Well—yes."

Greg groaned inwardly. Up to this moment he had been consoling himself with the assurance that the Castilian youth might have been lying.

It was she who broke the next long silence. "What difference does that make?"

"A great deal to me."

She perversely chose to misunderstand him. "Do you mean that you don't care to help an engaged girl?"

"I don't mean that at all," said Greg indignantly.

"What do you mean then?"

"Am I no more to you than a kind of detective to be dropped as soon as this case is done with?" he demanded bitterly. "Perhaps you expect to pay me for my services and let me go."

"If you're going to be hateful I don't know what to say."

"Neither do I," said Greg gloomily. "I guess there is nothing to be said."

Once more it was she who could not support the silence. "Who told you I was engaged?" she demanded.

"He did. The young man. I don't know his name."

"Where did you ever meet him?"

"In the Meriden. After he left you day before yesterday. I followed him into the bar and managed to get into conversation with him. I was trying then to find some way of getting into communication with you. He volunteered the information about being engaged to you. It came out of the clear sky to me."

She said, not with entire candor perhaps: "I am to understand, then, that you wish to have nothing more to do with me or my affairs."

"Nothing of the kind," he said, "I shall go through with it to the end."

"Why are you quarreling with me then?"—this with a plaintive note.

"I'm quarreling with you because yesterday in your letters you called me your friend; you led me to believe that I was something more to you than a useful person, yet you withheld this essential fact."

"But you knew it all the time."

"You didn't tell me. How did I know but what the man was lying?"

"He's incapable of lying!"

"Oh, now you're simply trying to change the issue."

He had her there. She fell silent.

Presently he went on with added bitterness. "What I can't understand is, when you said you were an American, when you said you loved America, how you could have chosen him."

"That's why," she said. "He's an American."

"What!"

"Half an American anyway. His father was an American like mine. His name is Henry Saunders."

"I fancy he must take after his mother," said Greg dryly.

Once more they rode for several blocks in a miserable silence, each looking out of his own window.

"I'm sorry I can't drop this painful subject," Greg said at last, "but I've got to know where Mr. Saunders comes in on our case."

"What do you mean? He doesn't come in at all."

"Is he on de Socotra's side?"

"He has nothing to do with politics."

"I see. What does he do?"

"Are you trying to insult him?"

"Not at all. Merely asking for a little information."

"He's very wealthy. He looks after his property and—er—he travels."

"I see. What would your uncle have said about him?"

"I don't know, I'm sure."

"But you said your uncle's ideas had very strongly affected you."

"That's true. But I wouldn't let him nor anybody else choose a man for me to marry."

"Of course not. But as the wife of Mr. Saunders do you expect to lead the kind of life your uncle recommended?"

"I don't admit your right to ask me any such question."

"Easy enough to say that when the question is hard to answer," said Greg bitterly.

"I wish I were home!" she said in a small voice.

But he would not spare her. "Why haven't you told Mr. Saunders everything that has happened?"

"Because—Oh, a thousand reasons! How many more questions do you expect me to answer?"

"Is it because you think he might not be willing to help you run down the murderers of Antonio Bareda?"

"You have no right to suggest such a thing!"

"But you said he was rich. Naturally he belongs to the rich man's party."

"He's honest and straightforward."

"Then why haven't you told him?"

"I wished to spare him."

"I'm sorry, but he must be told."

Her eyebrows went up. "Must? I don't like your tone. Why must he?"

"I should think you'd see yourself. You and I can't be engaged on these secret matters and go around together without his being told. I must insist on his being told for my own sake."

It need hardly be said that in taking this lofty moral position Greg was not wholly sincere. As a matter of fact he suspected that the Castilian youth would cut a very poor figure in a matter of this kind, and he had a not unnatural desire to show him up.

"Very well, I'll tell him," she said crossly.

"And I should be introduced to him."

"Anything else?" she queried sarcastically.

On the whole that drive home could not be considered a success. The very warmth of their feelings towards each other gave them a power to wound that they seemed to take a perverse pleasure in exercising to the full. But Greg thought of how it would be after she left him, and his heart sunk. As they drew near the Stickney Arms he made an effort to mend matters.

"We don't seem to be getting on very well to-night."

"I'm sure it's not my fault," she retorted with her chin in the air.

This was not promising, but he persisted. "I'm sorry if I have been rude or rough. Forgive me, and admit that you were just a little bit to blame too."

"I shall do nothing of the kind! I should never let any man take such a tone of command towards me, least of all a stranger. It's ridiculous!"

"I'm sorry. Forgive me," said Greg again.

"Oh, it's easy to ask forgiveness. You can't expect to make me as angry as you possibly can, and then have me turn around and forgive you for the asking."

As the cab slowed down Greg said: "At least say good-night to me nicely."

"I can't," she said. "You make me hate you."

She marched across the pavement without a backward look. Greg for obvious reasons did not get out of the cab. As they turned back home he sighed. If he had been a better psychologist, or rather if the keenness of his feelings had not blinded him to the psychology of the desired one, he would not have been so cast down.



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