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she was the person you wanted?"
Carlyle smiled confidently.
"Why naturally," he said. "I've been perfectly sure ever since I first heard tell of her wild career. That's why I
had Babe send up the rocket last night."
"I'm glad you did," said Colonel Moreland gravely. "We've been keeping pretty close to you in case you
should have trouble with those six strange niggers. And we hoped we'd find you two in some such
compromising position," he sighed. "Well, set a crank to catch a crank!"
"Your father and I sat up all night hoping for the best or perhaps it's the worst. Lord knows you're welcome
to her, my boy. She's run me crazy. Did you give her the Russian bracelet my detective got from that Mimi
Carlyle nodded.
"Sh!" he said. "She's coming on deck."
Ardita appeared at the head of the companion-way and gave a quick involuntary glance at Carlyle's wrists. A
puzzled look passed across her face. Back aft the negroes had begun to sing, and the cool lake, fresh with
dawn, echoed serenely to their low voices.
VI 23
The Offshore Pirate
"Ardita," said Carlyle unsteadily.
She swayed a step toward him.
"Ardita," he repeated breathlessly, "I've got to tell you the the truth. It was all a plant, Ardita. My name isn't
Carlyle. It's Moreland, Toby Moreland. The story was invented, Ardita, invented out of thin Florida air."
She stared at him, bewildered amazement, disbelief, and anger flowing in quick waves across her face. The
three men held their breaths. Moreland, Senior, took a step toward her; Mr. Farnam's mouth dropped a little
open as he waited, panic-stricken, for the expected crash.
But it did not come. Ardita's face became suddenly radiant, and with a little laugh she went swiftly to young
Moreland and looked up at him without a trace of wrath in her gray eyes.
"Will you swear," she said quietly, "that it was entirely a product of your own brain?"
"I swear," said young Moreland eagerly.
She drew his head down and kissed him gently.
"What an imagination!" she said softly and almost enviously. "I want you to lie to me just as sweetly as you
know how for the rest of my life."
The negroes' voices floated drowsily back, mingled in an air that she had heard them sing before.
"Time is a thief;
Gladness and grief
Cling to the leaf
As it yellows "
"What was in the bags?" she asked softly.
"Florida mud," he answered. "That was one of the two true things I told you."
"Perhaps I can guess the other one," she said; and reaching up on her tiptoes she kissed him softly in the
VI 24 [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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