Chapter XII. Frontier Day.
 

Again it was July. And, with the time of the cattlemen's celebration of the Fourth at hand, riders from every part of the great western cow country assembled in Prescott for their annual contests. From Texas and Montana, from Oklahoma and New Mexico and Wyoming, the cowboys came with their saddles and riatas to meet each other and the men of Arizona in friendly trials of strength and skill. From many a wild pasture, outlaw horses famous for their vicious, unsubdued spirits, and their fierce, untamed strength, were brought to match their wicked, unbroken wills against the cool, determined courage of the riders. From the wide ranges, the steers that were to participate in the roping and bull-dogging contests were gathered and driven in. From many a ranch the fastest and best of the trained cow-horses were sent for the various cowboy races. And the little city, in its rocky, mile-high basin, upon which the higher surrounding mountains look so steadfastly down, again decked itself in gala colors, and opened wide its doors to welcome all who chose to come.

From the Cross-Triangle and the neighboring ranches the cowboys, dressed in the best of their picturesque regalia, rode into the town, to witness and take part in the sports. With them rode Honorable Patches.

And this was not the carefully groomed and immaculately attired gentleman who, in troubled spirit, had walked alone over that long, unfenced way a year before. This was not the timid, hesitating, shamefaced man at whom Phil Acton had laughed on the summit of the Divide. This was a man among men--a cowboy of the cowboys--bronzed, and lean, and rugged; vitally alive in every inch of his long body; with self-reliant courage and daring hardihood written all over him, expressed in every tone of his voice, and ringing in every note of his laughter.

The Dean and Mrs. Baldwin and Little Billy drove in the buckboard, but the distinguished guest of the Cross-Triangle went with the Reid family in the automobile. The professor was not at all interested in the celebration, but he could not well remain at the ranch alone, and, it may be supposed, the invitation from Kitty helped to make the occasion endurable.

The celebration this year--the posters and circulars declared--was to be the biggest and best that Prescott had ever offered. In proof of the bold assertion, the program promised, in addition to the usual events, an automobile race. Shades of all those mighty heroes of the saddle, whose names may not be erased from the history of the great West, think of it! An automobile race offered as the chief event in a Frontier Day Celebration!

No wonder that Mrs. Manning said to her husband that day, "But Stan, where are the cowboys?"

Stanford Manning answered laughingly, "Oh, they are here, all right, Helen; just wait a little and you will see."

Mr. and Mrs. Manning had arrived from Cleveland, Ohio, the evening before, and Helen was eager and excited with the prospect of meeting the people, and witnessing the scenes of which her husband had told her with so much enthusiasm.

As the Dean had told Patches that day when the cattleman had advanced the money for the stranger's outfit, the young mining engineer had won a place for himself amid the scenes and among the people of that western country. He had first come to the land of this story, fresh from his technical training in the East. His employers, quick to recognize not only his ability in his profession but his character and manhood, as well, had advanced him rapidly and, less than a month before Patches asked for work at the Cross-Triangle, had sent him on an important mission to their mines in the North. They were sending him, now, again to Arizona, this time as the resident manager of their properties in the Prescott district. This new advance in his profession, together with the substantial increase in salary which it brought, meant much to the engineer. Most of all, it meant his marriage to Helen Wakefield. A stop-over of two weeks at Cleveland, on way West, from the main offices of his Company in New York, had changed his return to Prescott from a simple business trip to a wedding journey.

At the home of the Yavapai Club, on top of the hill, a clock above the plaza, a number of Prescott's citizens, with their guests, had gathered to watch the beginning of the automobile race. The course, from the corner in front of the St. Michael hotel, followed the street along one side of the plaza, climbed straight up the hill, passed the clubhouse, and so away into the open country. From the clubhouse veranda, from the lawn and walks in front, or from their seats in convenient automobiles standing near, the company enjoyed, thus, an unobstructed view of the starting point of the race, and could look down as well upon the crowds that pressed against the ropes which were stretched along either side of the street. Prom a friendly automobile, Helen Manning, with her husband's field glasses, was an eager and excited observer of the interesting scene, while Stanford near by was busy greeting old friends, presenting them to his wife and receiving their congratulations. And often, he turned with a fond look and a merry word to the young woman, as though reassuring himself that she was really there. There was no doubt about it, Stamford Manning, strong and steady and forceful, was very much in love with this girl who looked down into his face with such an air of sweet confidence and companionship. And Helen, as she turned from the scene that so interested her, to greet her husband's friends, to ask him some question, or to answer some laughing remark, could not hide the love light in her soft brown eyes. One could not fail to see that her woman heart was glad--glad and proud that this stalwart, broad-shouldered leader of men had chosen her for his mate.

"But, Stan," she said, with a pretty air of disappointment, "I thought it was all going to be so different. Why, except for the mountains, and those poor Indians over there, this might all be in some little town back home. I thought there would be cowboys riding about everywhere, with long hair and big hats, and guns and things."

Stanford and his friends who were standing near laughed.

"I fear, Mrs. Manning," remarked Mr. Richards, one of Prescott's bank presidents, "that Stanford has been telling you wild west stories. The West moves as well as the East, you know. We are becoming civilized."

"Indeed you are, Mr. Richards," Helen returned. "And I don't think I like it a bit. It's not fair to your poor eastern sight-seers, like myself."

"If you are really so anxious to see a sure enough cowboy, look over there," said Stanford, and pointed across the street.

"Where?" demanded Helen eagerly.

"There," smiled Stanford, "the dark-faced chap near that automobile standing by the curb; the machine with the pretty girl at the wheel. See! he is stopping to talk with the girl."

"What! That nice looking man, dressed just like thousands of men that we might see any day on the streets of Cleveland?" cried Helen.

"Exactly," chuckled her husband, while the others laughed at her incredulous surprise. "But, just the same, that's Phil Acton; 'Wild Horse Phil,' if you please. He is the cowboy foreman of the Cross-Triangle Ranch, and won the championship in the bronco riding last year."

"I don't believe it--you are making fun of me, Stanford Manning."

Then, before he could answer, she cried, with quick excitement, "But, Stan, look! Look at the girl in the automobile! She looks like--it is, Stan, it is!" And to the amazement of her husband and her friends Mrs. Manning sprang to her feet and, waving her handkerchief, called, "Kitty! Oh, Kitty--Kitty Reid!"

As her clear call rang out, many people turned to look, and then to smile at the picture, as she stood there in the bright Arizona day, so animated and wholesomely alive in the grace and charm of her beautiful young womanhood, above the little group of men who were looking up at her with laughing admiration.

On the other side of the street, where she sat with her parents and Professor Parkhill, talking to Phil, Kitty heard the call, and looked. A moment later she was across the street, and the two young women were greeting each other with old-time schoolgirl enthusiasm. Introductions and explanations followed, with frequent feminine exclamations of surprise and delight. Then the men drew a little away, talking, laughing, as men will on such occasions, leaving the two women to themselves.

In that eastern school, which, for those three years, had been Kitty's home, Helen Wakefield and the girl from Arizona had been close and intimate friends. Indeed, Helen, with her strong womanly character and that rare gift of helpful sympathy and understanding, had been to the girl fresh from the cattle ranges more than a friend; she had been counsellor and companion, and, in many ways, a wise guardian and teacher.

"But why in the world didn't you write me about it?" demanded Kitty a little later. "Why didn't you tell me that you had become Mrs. Stanford Manning, and that you were coming to Prescott?"

Helen laughed and blushed happily. "Why, you see, Kitty, it all happened so quickly that there was no time to write. You remember when I wrote you about Stan, I told you how poor he was, and how we didn't expect to be married for several years?"

"Yes."

"Well, then, you see, Stan's company, all unexpectedly to him, called him to New York and gave him this position out here. He had to start at once, and wired me from New York. Just think, I had only a week for the wedding and everything! I knew, of course, that I could find you after I got here."

"And now that you are here," said Kitty decisively, "you and Mr. Manning are coming right out to Williamson Valley to spend your honeymoon on the ranch."

But Helen shook her head. "Stan has it all planned, Kitty, and he won't listen to anything else. There is a place around here somewhere that he calls Granite Basin, and he has it all arranged that we are to camp out there for three weeks. His company has given him that much time, and we are going just as soon as this celebration is over. After that, while Stan gets started with his work, and fixes some place for us to live, I will make you a little visit."

"I suppose there is no use trying to contend against the rights of a brand-new husband," returned Kitty, "but it's a promise, that you will come to me as soon as your camping trip is over?"

"It's a promise," agreed Helen. "You see, that's really part of Stanford's plan; I was so sure you would want me, you know."

"Want you? I should say I do want you," cried Kitty, "and I need you, too."

Something in her voice made Helen look at her questioningly, but Kitty only smiled.

"I'll tell you all about it when there is more time."

"Let me see," said Helen. "There used to be--why, of course, that nice looking man you were talking to when I recognized you--Phil Acton." She looked across the street as she spoke, but Phil had gone.

"Please don't, Helen dear," said Kitty, "that was only my schoolgirl nonsense. When I came back home I found how impossible it all was. But I must run back to the folks now. Won't you come and meet them?"

Before Helen could answer someone shouted, "They're getting ready for the start," and everybody looked down the hill toward the place where the racing machines were sputtering and roaring in their clouds of blue smoke.

Helen caught up the field glasses to look, saying, "We can't go now, Kitty. You stay here with us until after the race is started; then we'll go."

As Helen lowered the glasses Stanford, who had come to stand beside the automobile, reached out his hand. "Let me have a look, Helen. They say my old friend, Judge Morris, is the official starter." He put the field glasses to his eyes. "There he is all right, as big as life; finest man that ever lived. Look, Helen." He returned the glasses to his wife "If you want to see a genuine western lawyer, a scholar and a gentleman, take a look at that six-foot-three or four down there in the gray clothes."

"I see him," said Helen, "but there seems to be some thing the matter; there he goes back to the machines. Now he's laying down the law to the drivers."

"They won't put over anything on Morris," said Stanford admiringly.

Then a deep, kindly voice at his elbow said, "Howdy, Manning! Ain't you got time to speak to your old friends?"

Stanford whirled and, with a glad exclamation, grasped the Dean's outstretched hand. Still holding fast to the cattleman, he again turned to his wife, who was looking down at them with smiling interest. "Helen, this is Mr. Baldwin--the Dean, you know."

"Indeed, I ought to know the Dean," she cried, giving him her hand. "Stanford has told me so much about you that I am in love with you already."

"And I"--retorted the Dean, looking up at her with his blue eyes twinkling approval--"I reckon I've always been in love with you. I'm sure glad to see that this young man has justified his reputation for good judgment. Have they got any more girls like you back East? 'Cause if they have, I'll sure be obliged to take a trip to that part of the world before I get too old."

"You are just as Stan said you were," retorted Helen.

"Uncle Will!" cried Kitty. "I am ashamed of you! I didn't think you would turn down your own home folks like that!"

The Dean lifted his hat and rumpled his grizzly hair as though fairly caught. Then: "Why, Kitty, you know that I couldn't love any girl more than I do you. Why, you belong to me most as much as you belong to your own father and mother. But, you see--honey--well, you see, we've just naturally got to be nice to strangers, you know." When they had laughed at this, Kitty explained to that Dean how Mrs. Manning was the Helen Wakefield with whom she had been such friends at school, and that, after the Mannings' outing in Granite Basin, Helen was to visit Williamson Valley.

"Campin' out in Granite Basin, heh?" said the Dean to Stanford. "I reckon you'll be seein' some o' my boys. They're goin' up into that country after outlaw steers next week."

"I hope so," returned Stanford. "Helen has been complaining that there are no cowboys to be seen. I pointed out Phil Acton, but he didn't seem to fill the bill; she doesn't believe that he is a cowboy at all."

The Dean chuckled. "He's never been anything else. They don't make 'em any better anywhere." Then he added soberly, "Phil's not ridin' in the contest this year, though."

"What's the matter?"

"I don't know. He's got some sort of a fool notion in his head that he don't want to make an exhibition of himself--that's what he said. I've got another man on the ranch now," he added, as though to change the subject, "that'll be mighty near as good as Phil in another year. His name is Patches. He's a good one, all right."

Kitty, who, had been looking away down the street while the Dean was talking, put her hand on Helen's arm. "Look down there, Helen. I believe that is Patches now--that man sitting on his horse at the cross street, at the foot of the hill, just outside the ropes."

Helen was looking through the field glasses. "I see him," she cried. "Now, that's more like it. He looks like what I expected to see. What a fine, big chap he is, isn't he?" Then, as she studied the distant horseman, a puzzled expression came over her face. "Why, Kitty!" she said in a low tone, so that the men who were talking did not hear. "Do you know, that man somehow reminds me"--she hesitated and lowered the glasses to look at her companion with half-amused, half-embarrassed eyes--"he reminds me of Lawrence Knight."

Kitty's brown, fun-loving eyes glowed with mischief. "Really, Mrs. Manning, I am ashamed of you. Before the honeymoon has waned, your thoughts, with no better excuse than the appearance of a poor cow-puncher, go back to the captivating charms of your old millionaire lover. I--"

"Kitty! Do hush," pleaded Helen.

She lifted her glasses for another look at the cowboy.

"I don't wonder that your conscience reproves you," teased Kitty, in a low tone. "But tell me, poor child, how did it happen that you lost your millionaire?"

"I didn't lose him," retorted Helen, still watching Patches. "He lost me."

Kitty persisted with a playful mockery. "What! the great, the wonderful Knight of so many millions, failed, with all his glittering charms, to captivate the fair but simple Helen! Really, I can't believe it."

"Look at that man right there," flashed Helen proudly, indicating her husband, "and you can believe it."

Kitty laughed so gaily that Stanford turned to look at them with smiling inquiry.

"Never mind, Mr. Manning," said Kitty, "we are just reminiscing, that's all."

"Don't miss the race," he answered; "they're getting ready again to start. It looks like a go this time."

"And to think," murmured Kitty, "that I never so much as saw your Knight's picture! But you used to like Lawrence Knight, didn't you, Helen?" she added, as Helen lifted her field glasses again. And now, Mrs. Manning caught a note of earnest inquiry in her companion's voice. It was as though the girl were seeking confirmation of some purpose or decision of her own.

"Why, yes, Kitty, I liked Larry Knight very much," she answered frankly. "He was a fine fellow in many ways--a dear, good friend. Stanford and I are both very fond of him; they were college mates, you know. But, my dear girl, no one could ever consider poor old Larry seriously--as a man, you know--he is so--so utterly and hopelessly worthless."

"Worthless! With--how many millions is it?"

"Oh, Kitty, you know what I mean. But, really dear, we have talked enough about Mr. Lawrence Knight. I'm going to have another look at the cowboy. He looks like a real man, doesn't he? What is it the Dean called him?"

"Patches."

"Oh, yes; what a funny name--Patches."

"Honorable Patches," said Kitty.

"How odd!" mused Helen. "Oh, Stan, come here a minute. Take the glasses and look at that cowboy down there."

Stanford trained the field glasses as she directed.

"Doesn't he remind you of Larry Knight?"

"Larry Knight!" Stanford looked at her in amazement. "That cow-puncher? Larry Knight? I should say not. Lord! but wouldn't fastidious, cultured and correct old Larry feel complimented to know that you found anything in a common cow-puncher to remind you of him!"

"But, here, take your glasses, quick; they are going to start at last."

Even as Helen looked, Judge Morris gave the signal and the first racing car, with a mighty roar, leaped away from the starting point, and thundered up the street between the lines of the crowding, cheering people. An instant more, and Helen Manning witnessed a scene that thrilled the hearts of every man, woman and child in that great crowd.

As the big racing car, gathering speed at every throb of its powerful motor, swept toward the hill, a small boy, but little more than a toddling baby, escaped from his mother, who, with the excited throng, was crowding against the rope barrier, and before those whose eyes were fixed on the automobile noticed, the child was in the street, fairly in the path of the approaching machine. A sudden hush fell on the shouting multitude. Helen, through the field glasses, could see even the child's face, as, laughing gleefully, he looked back when his mother screamed. Stricken with horror, the young woman could not lower her glasses. Fascinated, she watched. The people seemed, for an instant, paralyzed. Not a soul moved or uttered a sound. Would the driver of the racing car swerve aside from his course in time? If he did, would the baby, in sudden fright, dodge in front of the machine? Then Helen saw the cowboy who had so interested her lean forward in his saddle and strike his spurs deep in the flanks of his already restless horse. With a tremendous bound the animal cleared the rope barrier, and in an instant was leaping toward the child and the approaching car. The people gasped at the daring of the man who had not waited to think. It was over in a second. As Patches swept by the child, he leaned low from the saddle; and, as the next leap of his horse carried him barely clear of the machine, they saw his tall, lithe body straighten, as he swung the baby up into his arms.

Then, indeed, the crowd went wild. Men yelled and cheered; women laughed and cried; and, as the cowboy returned the frightened baby to the distressed mother, a hundred eager hands were stretched forth to greet him. But the excited horse backed away; someone raised the rope barrier, and Patches disappeared down the side street.

Helen's eyes were wet, but she was smiling. "No," she said softly to Kitty and Stanford, "that was not Lawrence Knight. Poor old Larry never could have done that."

It was a little after the noon hour when Kitty, who, with her father, mother and brothers, had been for dinner at the home of one of their Prescott friends, was crossing the plaza on her way to join Mr. and Mrs. Manning, with whom she was to spend the afternoon. In a less frequented corner of the little park, back of the courthouse, she saw Patches. The cowboy, who had changed from his ranch costume to a less picturesque business garb, was seated alone on one of the benches that are placed along the walks, reading a letter. With his attention fixed upon the letter, he did not notice Kitty as she approached. And the girl, when she first caught sight of him, paused for an instant; then she went toward him slowly, studying him with a new interest.

She was quite near when, looking up, he saw her. Instantly he rose to his feet, slipped the letter into his pocket, and stood before her, hat in hand, to greet her with genuine pleasure and with that gentle courtesy which always marked his bearing. And Kitty, as she looked up at him, felt, more convincingly than ever, that this man would be perfectly at ease in the most exacting social company.

"I fear I interrupted you," said the young woman. "I was just passing."

"Not at all," he protested. "Surely you can give me a moment of your busy gala day. I know you have a host of friends, of course, but--well, I am lonely. Curly and Bob and the boys are all having the time of their lives; the Dean and mother are lunching with friends; and I don't know where Phil has hidden himself."

It was like him to mention Phil in almost his first words to her. And Kitty, as Patches spoke Phil's name, instantly, as she had so often done during the past few months, mentally placed the two men side by side.

"I just wanted to tell you"--she hesitated--"Mr. Patches--"

"I beg your pardon," he interrupted smiling.

"Well, Patches then; but you seem so different somehow, dressed like this. I just wanted to tell you that I saw what happened this morning. It was splendid!"

"Why, Miss Reid, you know that was nothing. The driver of the car would probably have dodged the youngster anyway. I acted on the impulse of the moment, without thinking. I'm always doing something unnecessarily foolish, you know."

"The driver of the car would more likely have dodged into the child," she returned warmly. "And it was fortunate that some one in all that stupid crowd could act without taking time to think. Everybody says so. The dear old Dean is as pleased and proud as though you were one of his own sons."

"Really, you make too much of it," he returned, clearly embarrassed by her praise. "Tell me, you are enjoying the celebration? And what's the matter with Phil? Can't you persuade him to ride in the contest? We don't want the championship to go out of Yavapai County, do we?"

Why must he always bring Phil into their talk? Kitty asked herself.

"I am sure that Phil knows how all his friends feel about his riding," she said coolly. "If he does not wish to gratify them, it is really a small matter, is it not?"

Patches saw that he had made a mistake and changed easily to a safer topic.

"You saw the beginning of the automobile race, of course? I suppose you will be on hand this afternoon for the finish?"

"Oh, yes, I'm on my way now to join my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Stanford Manning. We are going to see the finish of the race together."

She watched his face closely, as she spoke of her friends, but he gave no sign that he had ever heard the name before.

"It will be worth seeing, I fancy," he returned. "At least everybody seems to feel that way."

"I am sure to have a good time, anyway," she returned, "because, you see, Mrs. Manning is one of my very dearest girl friends, whom I have not seen for a long time."

"Indeed! You will enjoy the afternoon, then."

Was there a shade too much enthusiasm in the tone of his reply? Kitty wondered. Could it be that his plea of loneliness was merely a conventional courtesy and that he was really relieved to find that she was engaged for the afternoon?

"Yes, and I must hurry on to them, or they will think I am not coming," she said. "Have a good time, Patches; you surely have earned it. Good-by!"

He stood for a moment watching her cross the park. Then, with a quick look around, as though he did not wish to be observed, he hurried across the street to the Western Union office. A few moments later he made his way, by little-frequented side streets, to the stable where he had left his horse; and while Kitty and her friends were watching the first of the racing cars cross the line, Patches was several miles away, riding as though pursued by the sheriff, straight for the Cross-Triangle Ranch.

Several times that day, while she was with her eastern friends, Kitty saw Phil near by. But she gave him no signal to join them, and the cowboy, shy always, and hurt by Kitty's indifference, would not approach the little party without her invitation. But that evening, while Kitty was waiting in the hotel lobby for Mr. and Mrs. Manning, Phil, finding her alone, went to her.

"I have been trying to speak to you all day," he said reproachfully. "Haven't you any time for me at all, Kitty?"

"Don't be foolish, Phil," she returned; "you have seen me a dozen times."

"I have seen you, yes," he answered bitterly.

"But, Phil, you could have come to me, if you had wanted to."

"I have no desire to go where I am not wanted," he answered.

"Phil!"

"Well, you gave no sign that you wanted me."

"There was no reason why I should," she retorted. "You are not a child. I was with my friends from the East. You could have joined us if you had cared to. I should be very glad, indeed, to present you to Mr. and Mrs. Manning."

"Thank you, but I don't care to be exhibited as an interesting specimen to people who have no use for me except when I do a few fool stunts to amuse them."

"Very well, Phil," she returned coldly. "If that is your feeling, I do not care to present you to my friends. They are every bit as sincere and genuine as you are; and I certainly shall not trouble them with anyone who cannot appreciate them."

Kitty was angry, as she had good reason for being. But beneath her anger she was sorry for the man whose bitterness, she knew, was born of his love for her. And Phil saw only that Kitty was lost to him--saw in the girl's eastern friends those who, he felt, had robbed him of his dream.

"I suppose," he said, after a moment's painful silence, "that I had better go back to the range where I belong. I'm out of place here."

The girl was touched by the hopelessness in his voice, but she felt that it would be no kindness to offer him the relief of an encouraging word. Her day with her eastern friends, and the memories that her meeting with Mrs. Manning had aroused, convinced her more than ever that her old love for Phil, and the life of which he was a part, were for her impossible.

When she did not speak, the cowboy said bitterly, "I noticed that your fine friends did not take quite all your time. You found an opportunity for a quiet little visit with Honorable Patches."

Kitty was angry now in earnest. "You are forgetting yourself, Phil," she answered with cold dignity. "And I think that as long as you feel as you do toward my friends, and can speak to me like this about Mr. Patches, you are right in saying that you belong on the range. Mr. and Mrs. Manning are here, I see. I am going to dine with them. Good-by!" She turned away, leaving him standing there.

A moment he waited, as though stunned; then he turned to make his way blindly out of the hotel.

It was nearly morning when Patches was awakened by the sound of someone moving about the kitchen. A moment he listened, then, rising, went quickly to the kitchen door, thinking to surprise some chance night visitor.

When Phil saw him standing there the foreman for a moment said nothing, but, with the bread knife in one hand and one of Stella's good loaves in the other, stared at him in blank surprise. Then the look of surprise changed to an expression of questioning suspicion, and he demanded harshly, "What in hell are you doing here?"

Patches saw that the man was laboring under some great trouble. Indeed, Phil's voice and manner were not unlike one under the influence of strong drink. But Patches knew that Phil never drank.

"I was sleeping," he answered calmly. "You woke me, I suppose. I heard you, and came to see who was prowling around the kitchen at this time of the night; that is all."

"Oh, that's all, is it? But what are you here for? Why aren't you in Prescott where you are supposed to be?"

Patches, because he saw Phil's painful state of mind, exercised admirable self-control. "I supposed I had a perfect right to come here if I wished. I did not dream that my presence in this house would be questioned."

"That depends," Phil retorted. "Why did you leave Prescott?"

Patches, still calm, answered gently. "My reasons for not staying in Prescott are entirely personal, Phil; I do not care to explain just now."

"Oh, you don't? Well, it seems to me, sir, that you have a devil of a lot of personal business that you can't explain."

"I am afraid I have," returned Patches, with his old self-mocking smile. "But, look here, Phil, you are disturbed and all wrought up about something, or you wouldn't attack me like this. You don't really think me a suspicious character, and you know you don't. You are not yourself, old man, and I'll be hanged if I'll take anything you say as an insult, until I know that you say it, deliberately, in cold blood. I'm sorry for your trouble, Phil--damned sorry--I would give anything if I could help you. Perhaps I may be able to prove that later, but just now I think the kindest and wisest thing that I can do for us both is to say good-night."

He turned at the last word, without waiting for Phil to speak, and went back to his room.