Resurrection Rock (1920)/Chapter 14
CHAPTER XIVBARNEY LOUTRELLE
THE young man who called himself Barney, because an Indian had used that name for him, and who had added the surname, Loutrelle, had never, for himself and upon his personal errand, entered such a home as that on Scott Street. Of course, when he had been serving as a soldier abroad, and particularly after his conduct in the field had won him a commission, he had gone as guest to many great private houses, both in England and in France,—to town houses near Buckingham Palace, to marvellously perfect and story-book-like country places in Sussex and Kent; to the maisons and apartments where a dweller upon the Avenue Kléber or the Boulevard de Bois de Boulogne was chez lui and to the châteaux of the Loire. Barney had appreciated and greatly benefited by the privileges of these visits; but he had never been stupid enough to imagine that the gracious English and French gentlemen and ladies welcomed him into their homes in other than a sort of official capacity; he knew that no matter who, or what, he was, the mere fact that he was offering his life in their cause won him indulgence. Of course, Barney had made many warm, intimate friends in his Canadian battalion, where he served until the United States came into the war; but most of his comrades had been killed. Huston Adley, whose cousins lived in Kensington, was almost his only friend who had a home to offer for Barney's entertainment; and that Kensington home, though far finer than that of any friend whom Barney had previously visited, was no equal of Oliver Cullen's house on Scott Street.
Before the war, Barney had known little beyond the Michigan hills and farms, the lakes and woods of Charlevoix County and the little rural city of Boyne, nestled in a sort of cup at the eastern end of Pine Lake, near the northern tip of the lower Michigan peninsula; and Barney could clearly remember when Boyne was a distinctly wonderful, mysterious and awe-inspiring place with its wide, treeless Water Street, extending two squares with two-story buildings close together, sheltering food shops, hardware, dry-goods and drug stores, banks and pool rooms. Down by the water's edge, Lake Street ribbed it, running in one direction to North Boyne, with its scores of little cottages about the chemical works, the mill and the iron foundry, where a stubby ore carrier from Lake Superior was likely to be unloading; in the other direction lay the tannery with the fine, freshly painted home of the town's rich man not far away; then there was the railroad machine shop where men with great, clanging hammers worked upon the puffing engines and freight cars which bore the logs from the still wooded hinterland,—the Boyne City, Gaylord and Alpena Railroad. For many years Barney had longed, mutely, for the marvel of a ride upon one of these trains whenever Azen Mabo took him into Boyne on the rough, homemade farm wagon to restock the family store of flour, sugar and kerosene.
Azen bought in Boyne; but he never sold there. For Charlevoix, at the western end of Pine Lake, where is the channel through to the big lake, was always the selling market for the Indians; there were the great summer hotels and square after square of cottages filling each spring with the rich, reckless strangers from distant cities who could be counted upon to buy, at good prices, the bark canoes, the sweet-grass baskets and the porcupine quill boxes which Azen and his squaw and Barney manufactured in the long winter evenings. In Charlevoix, too, the boarding houses paid the best prices for the huckleberries, the wild raspberries and blackberries which Barney found in the woods. It was a ten-mile walk for Barney, carrying his berries; but you got a quarter for two quarts, and Azen seldom asked for any accounting of the money when Barney picked of his own accord and toted to town; occasionally, it is true, Azen made demands; for Charlevoix was wet in those days, and Azen liked to get dead drunk about six times a year; but in between he was entirely sober and very religious and kind. He could read and write both Chippewa and English, whenever he had occasion to; and he possessed Bibles printed in both languages. He spoke, in addition to Chippewa, careful, accurate, school-taught English and was able to help Barney with sixth-grade arithmetic. His wife spoke hardly any English at all, and she had no faith in the white, starch-collared doctor whom Azen summoned, in trembling panic, when his own little boy and baby girl both got so sick; she went out into the woods and gathered herbs of her own which she administered; wherefore the boy died, but the little girl pulled through.
Barney never remembered himself being sick; he could always do his work in Azen's five-acre clearing of beans and corn; when he was twelve, he was worth two thirds man's wages from the white farmers; and rarely indeed did he miss a day in winter, making the two-mile walk to the small, white schoolhouse on the Charlevoix road. It had one room, with blackboards all about, where a white lady taught fourteen or fifteen children usually,—sometimes eight white and six Indian, but occasionally more Indian than white. The children might be in five or six or even in eight "grades" which made the task difficult for the teacher, but rendered the day most fascinating to a boy eager to learn everything in the world all at once.
It was that teacher, who was always very kind to him, who inspired Barney to go to Boyne high school and work his way through the course, so that he actually was ready for college when the war came. And Barney had determined to go to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Not alone his conscious will to make something of himself and the natural vigor of his mind and body combined in forming this determination; something deeper within him, and less definable, seemed ever to drive him. So far as this force associated itself with anything tangible, it was bound up with his ring,—that old, stately, formal band of gold which was his inheritance. A man of his blood and brain went to college, it seemed to say; a man of his blood went to war without waiting to be called, or without delaying for the decision of his country. So in 1914 Barney left Boyne for Montreal and embarked upon the enormous adventure and education of the war. Four years in France and England—fighting, resting, recuperating and fighting again in the company of the most gallant gentlemen the world has ever seen—made Barney over; endowed him with manners, customs, habits of thought of the gentleman as well as of the soldier. These were his now, a part of him to endure as long as he lived; yet now that he was again in America and the war was over, there returned to him the sensations of the boy of the Indian shack and of Boyne when he found himself ascending the steps of the big, fashionable house on Scott Street.
A manservant admitted him, and when the man indicated that he had been expected, Barney gave him his cap and let him take his coat quite properly; he followed the man into a drawing-room where the servant pressed a button which lighted several pairs of candle-bulbs in brackets about the walls and which spread soft illumination through the room; he switched on the lights in a large, shaded lamp upon a table near the center and left Barney to await his friend.
Nothing in his experience had approximated the relation so quickly and so extraordinarily established with her after their first words together at the station at Escanaba. Only the evening before, when he first noticed her on the train, he had watched this fair, slight stranger a good deal, much as the little boy in the Indian wagon had observed the beautiful, daintily dressed girls who came to Charlevoix in summer. He had not imagined that he might even meet her; and now, wonderfully, they had become friends. More than friends, indeed; for something beyond both of them, and out of their control, had set them together in a relation which had no parallel. He thought of how he had told her, in the first hours of their acquaintance, intimacies of his life which he had never before mentioned, and how she, in turn, had shared with him her closest concerns; he thought of how she had gone to the Rock for him the morning that she had believed him killed, and how she had put her hands upon him and clung to him when she had discovered that he lived.
Barney arose from the chair in which he had been sitting and walked impatiently to the hall. Was she not coming, now that he was here? He put his hand upon her letters in his pocket to reassure himself that she had wanted him to come.
Ethel, upon the floor above, had been ready for many minutes; indeed, she had been ready when, from the front window of the room which had been Agnes's, she had seen Barney approaching the house; but she had waited for the servant to tell her that Mr. Loutrelle had come and then, amazingly, a tremor had attacked her when she reached the head of the stairs. So she retreated to her room and dallied there unwillingly, indignant at herself for this senseless hesitation before going downstairs. No one now in the world was as close to her—so she had considered many times during these last, lonely days—as this new friend; she had been looking forward eagerly to his arrival, arranging all plans to include him in what she had to do; and she had a very great deal to tell him and discuss with him. She should, therefore, descend at once in a friendly and business-like manner and greet him; but,—he was a man and she a girl. The sight of his strong, vigorous figure striding toward her had stirred a flutter in her breast which no amount of argument with self could quiet.
She had heard his voice, too; just in a word or so to the manservant, and it had more confused that flutter. When she went first from the head of the stairs to her room, it was to see herself again in her glass; the second time she so retreated it was to gaze once more at the picture of him in the group photograph which cousin Agnes had ordered. The puzzle of the presence of that picture among cousin Agnes's things had agitated her so greatly since its discovery that her impulse to take the picture at once to him almost controlled her; but she left it in her room and, at last, descended.
After a woman and man have met and known the wonder of mutual attraction and have separated, there is likely to be a dangerous process of idealization in progress of which one may become suddenly aware just before the moment of rejoining the other. Ethel was suffering this experience; she had reached the lower hall beside the lighted room where Barney was and, halting again with a catch at her heart, she felt fright at her own memories. Were they true ones,—those images which she had borne of his straight, strong, pleasing figure and of his good features, of his observant, understanding, likable eyes, of his steady lips which smiled so pleasantly, of his well-formed, firm hands which had held hers in their grasp? Or was he, when she should see him here, just like other men?
She stepped between the hangings at the door of the drawing-room and saw him; and the welling in her breast let her know that she had nothing to fear of disillusionment. But how was he finding her? For he, too, had been dreaming and idealizing; she saw that in his eyes meeting hers for their moment and then going to her brow, her lips, her arms and bosom, her dress and her slippers. He, too, had been bearing images; and she watched him with mighty dismay while he looked to see if he was to be disillusioned. And he was not! He had seen her before only in the suit which she had worn constantly at St. Florentin; now she had on an afternoon dress; and after witnessing the whiteness of her throat and arms, his eyes returned to hers and told her that he liked her as much, perhaps, as he had dreamt.
"Miss Carew!" he spoke her name.
"I'm so glad you're here!" she said. "Oh, I'm so glad!"
It was what she was feeling, not at all what she had intended to say; but then he had not said what he had planned.
"I wanted to come to you long ago," he confessed in return. "I've thought of coming every hour since you left, Miss Carew; when you wired yesterday and said I might come—" he halted.
"I wanted to wire you before," Ethel admitted. "But it was only yesterday it seemed I had the right to have you come."
She had planned, when she was upstairs, how she would shake hands with him; she had imagined the touch of his fingers on hers, but now neither had offered hand to the other. "Shan't we sit down?" she said. "No one will come to the front of the house unless we know it; we can talk here, Mr. Loutrelle."
She remembered that she had a very great deal to say to this man, and it was important for him to know much of it at once; she had had a "right" to send for him, not for the satisfaction of seeing him, but to tell him what she had discovered. "A great deal has happened here," she said.
"Not much up there," he replied, "except that I'm sure that Kincheloe is gone as well as your grandfather and grandmother. Kincheloe's wife is alone there with the Indians. It was a great relief to me, Miss Carew, when you let me know you had come here," he said, returning from their business to herself.
"You worried about my thirty-five dollars?"
"Some," he admitted, "until I knew you were where you were known."
"Well, except for carfare and a few lunches and small personal expenses, I've it all yet," she reported. "You see, Mrs. Wain won't let me pay anything; I'm a guest of cousin Agnes, she says. If I really needed money, she's several thousand yet in a balance which cousin Agnes left with her, which she'd give me. She's offered already; and besides, I'm positively refusing money these days, Mr. Loutrelle," she talked on in the delight of realizing his companionship again. She sat down in a chair near the table, and he sat near her. "My uncles, both of them, simply insist that I take their money now; I believe uncle Lucas has actually wired to have fifty thousand deposited to my account in the bank at Sheridan."
"Fifty thousand!" Barney repeated.
Ethel nodded. Fifty thousand had not been an unusual amount for her father to have had on deposit, and it was customary for her uncles to have more than that at call. She had not thought, in mentioning it, that Barney Loutrelle had probably not expended fifty hundred dollars in all his life; and this shocked her back to their business together. Before she had met this man whose whole estate consisted of his uniform, of the ring which he had shown her, and what now remained of his hundred and twenty dollars her uncles had been very far from the mood in which they wired money to her account at Sheridan. She had recognized that her finding Barney at St. Florentin and the event which seemed to be the consequence of his presence had wrought this change for her; and she had been thinking of that money as paid for hushing her knowledge of the crime committed. But before any one had been killed at the Rock, her grandfather had offered her money to tell him all she knew about Barney Loutrelle. Her uncle had not asked her for that information so directly; uncle Lucas did not do things directly; but she was sure that he had given that money for the purpose of learning more from her about Barney. About what events connected with him particularly? About his life with Azen Mabo? About his ring? About the fact that cousin Agnes had a group which included him? These bewildered speculations ran through Ethel's mind as she watched Loutrelle.
"I'm not touching uncle Lucas's money, of course," she said. "He has told me that the family is protecting father's investments which I told you about. I can't stop that; I don't think I would if I could. It will save father's friends, and uncle Lucas won't lose in the end. But I'll not have his money. I found out that James Quinlan, who was mentioned in that letter, had been in grandfather's employ and—you had that letter?" she interrupted herself, "where I told about it and his having lost his fingers from his right hand?"
"That crossed mine," Barney said, "in which I was so sure that the fellow with a short right mitten probably had no connection with our affair. Of course, I don't think that now. The coincidence would be too much."
"It wasn't a coincidence. Two days ago and yesterday I found out a good deal more about James Quinlan. My cousin had told me that he used to work for grandfather as long ago as when grandfather lived in the lumber camps."
"Yes; your letter said that."
"Bennet told me that Quinlan was a privileged character; and he had a grandson Robert—who must be the Robert that father means, Mr. Loutrelle."
"Robert Quinlan was killed last summer. The old man had been wrapped up in him and afterwards he went sort of queer, and he disappeared late in December. I wrote you, I think, that the landlady could tell me nothing more about him; but day before yesterday, when I went to 57th Street to see if, by any chance, any one else might know more, the landlady told me that a Mrs. Monahan, who lives over by Garfield Park, had been asking about him recently. So I went to the West Side and found that Mrs. Monahan was a woman about forty-five years old who was the sister of the wife of Quinlan's son. She told me that Quinlan, whose wife died many years ago, had one son also named James; and this James Quinlan and his wife—Mrs. Monahan's sister—both were lost in the Iroquois Theatre fire here in Chicago in 1903. They left the boy, Bob, she called him. She had Bob part of the time; then the old man wanted him, so Bob lived with him till he went to war. Bob was shot down in flames; he was burned in the air. She said that fact, following the death of Bob's father and mother, shook the old man's mind. She hadn't seen much of him since Bob's death because the sight of any one connected with Bob excited him too much; but she'd worried about him a lot, particularly after she'd found out just recently that he'd left his boarding place and gone without giving an address. She wanted to know what I know about him."
"What did you tell her?" Barney asked when Ethel hesitated.
"I said I was a Cullen and of course concerned about him. I don't know how well that satisfied her; but she's the sort that likes to talk, so she mentioned several significant things. It seemed that when her sister married James, the son, the father was very well off; they traveled in Europe; she showed me some of the things her sister sent from abroad. She said the old man made a lot of money once in Michigan; but he spent it all in a few years; then he got some more money; and spent that. It seemed rather queer to me after the way Bennet, my cousin, had spoken of James Quinlan as an employee—a sawyer who'd lost his fingers in the mill. Other things were strange which are harder to describe, Mr. Loutrelle—like the chest of silver my grandfather gave young James Quinlan when he married and the porringer and mug and spoon he gave the boy, Robert. Mrs. Monahan showed them to me. It was like my grandfather to give things; he used to make gifts for policy. But I wondered what 'policy' he had to follow with old James Quinlan; I mean I wondered what James Quinlan knew about grandfather," Ethel said directly. "For that is what the letter from Huston Adley must mean. What do you think about it, Mr. Loutrelle?"
"What do you?" Barney returned.
She smiled. "You answer like Asa Redbird."
"I've been with Asa most of the last days."
"Yes. You did not write me what you thought after you went out to the Rock; you said you found things just as I said they would be. But what did you think from them?"
"I thought that you were correct in believing that somebody was killed there," Barney said quietly.
"By Kincheloe," Ethel continued, quivering a little, "either at grandfather's order, or else as a result of bungling something which grandfather wanted him to do; that, I'd rather believe."
"That's what I think," Barney added quietly.
"Do you honestly? Well," Ethel continued, "we know the one who was killed was Quinlan. For about forty-five years ago, Mr. Loutrelle—maybe it was a little earlier and maybe it wasn't quite so long ago—something happened in the woods in Michigan. I think it gave Quinlan, who was a sawyer for grandfather, a certain power over him—so far as I can see—grandfather felt it at different times. I think—and I'm talking out to you what I think as I've never done with any one else, Mr. Loutrelle—that power accounts for the Quinlans' trips to Europe; grandfather gave them money to get them out of the way. Also the gifts. Then there must have been times when my people were not so afraid of Quinlan; at least they didn't give him so much money but only treated him like a privileged employee. But about the time that you started for St. Florentin—about the time that my father was trying to tell you to find Resurrection Rock—Quinlan changed and became dangerous to my family. That night at St. Florentin, when I saw grandfather going about his house in the dark with his rifle under his arm, it was for fear of Quinlan coming to find him. For my uncle had learned that Quinlan was missing here; he had gone there. So my uncle warned grandfather, and Kincheloe went out after a fox and came back and told grandfather that Quinlan was dead and would never trouble him any more, for he had killed him and put him into the lake."
She arose from her chair and stood before it, gazing at Barney. She thought of Bennet's rage at her for associating with an unknown, a stranger—a "pickup"—in her contest against her own family; but no fear or distrust of him came to her. He rose also, quivering a little as she was shaking and, as she stood up, her eyes, resting on his, followed him up so that whereas she had been gazing down at him a moment ago, now she looked up at him unwaveringly.
"Something had happened inside James Quinlan after Robert was shot down in flames which probably made it impossible for my uncle, who had taken grandfather's place here, to keep on controlling Quinlan in the old way," she said. "Whatever it was, it made Quinlan want to go to Resurrection Rock; I don't know whether he went there to find you. I can't quite see how that could be, but he certainly went there; and grandfather was afraid of his seeing you. That's quite clear. Grandfather was afraid, too, I think, of Quinlan coming to him. But Quinlan doesn't seem to have gone to St. Florentin at all; he went to Resurrection Rock; and Kincheloe found him there and killed him so that he could never speak to you. But Kincheloe couldn't kill my father who before that time—several days before—was trying to get word to me to find Quinlan; for my father was already dead; and—and—" she stopped. "I've reasoned that out rightly, Mr. Loutrelle? Or what do you think?"
"I haven't been able to see how Quinlan—or whoever was killed at the Rock—went there expecting me," Barney said. "I went there, as you know, on a sort of wild chance."
"But Bagley, who was there, was expecting you."
"Yes. This Marcellus Clarke had written him that I would come. But how did Clarke know? From some sort of message from your father, too, do you think?"
"No, I think Bagley's business at the Rock was simply a part of a plan of waiting for some one which has been going on for a good many years—and which father had nothing to do with when he was living, surely, and which I can't believe he has anything to do with now."
She saw Barney catch his breath quickly and she knew of what he was thinking. Had the vigil upon the Rock of which she had told him, and which went back to the years before the building of the house when Halford and his uncommunicative alternate kept watch in the old cabin on Resurrection Isle, been a plan of waiting for the boy who called himself Barney Loutrelle?
"Your ring," Ethel recalled to herself suddenly. "And the device carved on the mantel in that room." She did not need to mention what room; he was thinking of it, too.
"Yes?" he said, raising his head.
"They seemed very alike to me, I told you," Ethel said, "the devices on each."
"Yes, Miss Carew."
"Not more than like?"
"They were identical, Miss Carew," he said with a sudden emphasis which betrayed to her something of what he had pent up within. His hand went to his pocket where he kept his ring, and he took out the little chamois bag, in which he preserved it, and held the small band of old, scrolled gold upon his palm. The pattern of the working followed no easily described form, such as figures or fleur-de-lis, yet ran around the ring in a perfectly definite device of curves and points, peculiar and distinct.
"The carving in stone was larger, of course," Barney pronounced. "But identical; absolutely identical." And he looked up again at her.
"Yes," Ethel said. "Yes; I thought so."
He closed his hand in a spasm of emotion which he sought to control by turning away and walking to the other end of the room. "It was there," he said almost inaudibly. "I saw it."
For a moment more Ethel stood dulled with feeling for him,—for this boy from the Indian shack in the Charlevoix woods finding, at last, something which traced to his ring and to himself. Then her thought went to that photograph upstairs; since its discovery, she had prepared several ways of bringing it to him, but now she did something quite unplanned.
Five or six years ago, Oliver had had a portrait of Agnes painted; it was hanging in the music room just beyond the drawing-room; and Ethel went there and turned on the lights.
"Mr. Loutrelle," she summoned Barney. "Did you ever meet her?"
He had put away his ring and had quite regained possession of himself; he gazed at the beautiful portrait admiringly at once but without any sign of recognition.
"She's rather a wonder, isn't she?" he turned to Ethel and then back to the portrait, in his interest. "Who is she?"
"Did you ever meet her?" Ethel persisted.
Barney shifted his position slightly to view the picture in a different light.
"Oh! Was she in France?"
"Several times and most of the time during the war," Ethel said and, watching Barney, she saw color deepening in his face.
"There was a woman," he said after a minute, "who visited our battalion in rest billets two years ago, when I was still with the Canadians, Miss Carew. She was an American; I've forgotten her name; but I'll never forget her. She had a hospital, I heard, which she had built and kept up at her own expense near Boulogne; several hundred beds."
"Yes," Ethel said. "Go on."
"You mean this is she?"
"What about her when you met her?" Ethel demanded. "What did she do?'
"Why, I can't tell you, Miss Carew; she just was with us that night, going about and talking to us—each man a few minutes. It is a thing you don't think particularly about at the time—and never forget."
"Her name," Ethel said quietly, "was Mrs. Oliver Cullen; she was my cousin Agnes, by marriage. I told you about her when I told you about all our family; she owned this house. She was lost last September on the Gallantic."
"She was that woman?"
"Cousin Agnes contributed a field hospital near Boulogne, among many other things she did in the war, Mr. Loutrelle; and if you ever met her, I'm sure you'd never forget her."
"But what made you think I might have met her?"
Ethel left him in the music room while she went upstairs and returned with the photograph of the group of officers which she gave to him with the mere statement that she had found it among her cousin's things.
He examined it with quick interest, recognizing several of the other men before he observed that he, himself, was in the group.
"Some one was always snapping about," he said, in explanation of his forgetfulness of the particular occasion when this picture was taken. "That must have been taken last spring when we were near Amiens. That's Billy Howard and there is Gordon Fould, both from Chicago, I think; or from Illinois, anyway," he pointed to two young men in the picture. "Billy was killed in the Argonne.—I suppose your cousin knew them or some of the others?"
Ethel did not say that she had supposed that cousin Agnes might have known him; for now the probability of that seemed slight indeed. He had not even suggested it, and as she watched him, she could not tell whether the thought of any unusual interest on the part of Mrs. Oliver Cullen was in his mind. He gave back the photograph but remained several moments longer before the portrait, and when he returned with Ethel to the drawing-room, he commented upon her again. "I don't think I ever saw a finer face. So this was her house." And it seemed to Ethel that he gazed about the big room with new appreciation of the taste in its decoration and furnishing.
Ethel offered nothing more about her cousin Agnes when they sat down; she went over with him in detail everything she had done since leaving him, including her call of that afternoon at Mrs. Davol's where, she reported, she had made an appointment for a sitting that evening. She lost all account of time during this talk so that she heard a servant opening the front door and admitting some one before she realized that this was the hour at which Bennet dropped in to scold and argue with her before going home from the office.
"Hello!" he called before him, coming into the drawing-room; then, seeing Barney, he squared about challengingly.
Ethel guessed from Bennet's wilting, when Barney stood and remained observing him quietly, that Bennet had first assumed that the stranger was her offensive "pick-up" friend, but that closer scrutiny made that at least doubtful. "Well, Ethel," he turned about uncomfortably, "I didn't mean to intrude—"
"Oh, I expected you," Ethel said, her heart pulsing hotly. "Mr. Loutrelle, this is my cousin Bennet Cullen."
"Loutrelle!" Bennet repeated, facing about to Barney again. "So you are Loutrelle!"
The exclamation was so insulting that Ethel rejoiced that Barney offered no reply; he had inclined his head slightly when Ethel had introduced Bennet, and he had stepped forward a little, halting when Bennet thus repulsed him. Her impulse was to interfere in his defense; but Barney glanced quickly at her, and she realized that he, who had made himself from a boy in an Indian shack into an officer who had commanded men during years of war, was used to handling difficult and embarrassing situations for himself.
"What do you want here?" Bennet was demanding.
"Miss Carew knows why I am here," Barney replied quietly.
"I'll ask you to tell me!" Bennet attempted to command. Bennet—Ethel saw—did not know how to command Barney; but Barney knew how to control Bennet.
"That's no use," Barney said, shaking his head slightly.
It was no use; and Bennet was alert-minded enough to recognize it. He had come in with his preconceived notion of the man whom Ethel had met on the train; and in his moment of astonishment at seeing Barney, he had not been able to temper his address to this very different sort of man. So Bennet stood silenced, angry at himself and at Ethel as well as at Barney. He had clenched his hands in his anger; Barney's hands had not closed at all; nor had Barney's color perceptibly altered, nor was his voice raised.
"Miss Carew has told me enough about her talks with you," Barney said to Bennet, "so that I understand that you and I are not likely to see many things from the same point of view."
"I think not," Bennet said. "No, I should say not, if you are the cause of her thinking that my grandfather—"
"Stop!" Barney warned quickly; and Bennet obeyed, more furious at himself for obeying until he realized that Barney was aware that the man who had admitted Bennet was still delaying in the rear hall. In the silence, they heard a door softly open and close; but Bennet went into the hall to make sure that no one was about. He returned still wrathful but also a little ashamed of himself. This Loutrelle not only was different sort from expectations, but clearly he was not recklessly determined on trouble.
"Miss Carew and I had the advantage of being on the spot where something happened," Barney continued. "You can keep on saying that she's crazy and that I am, if you want to; or you can help us to make out what happened and show us that it was something different from what we think—if you can. Your cousin surely would like to think of it differently, if she could. I would; I've no object whatever in wanting to believe that something happened up there that didn't. Do you think I have?"
"I don't know!" Bennet blustered. "I haven't thought much about you. What do I know about you, anyway?"
"I'm willing for you, and for all your family to know everything about my connection with this affair. In fact, I want you to," Barney said. "Before you came, I was wondering what would be the best way to tell it to you—your people, I mean, and Miss Carew's. For, you see, in order to protect me—she thought it was protecting me—your cousin has been putting herself in a false position with you all; or at least in a very hard one, which others are pretty sure to misunderstand. So since I am in town now and expect to see her often—in fact, I'm taking her out this evening—I want you all to know exactly what we are doing and why."
This caught Ethel scarcely less aghast than it did Bennet; but she saw that Barney meant it, and the next instant after her surprise, she realized the good sense in him. He was not undertaking the task of himself further informing Bennet; he now asked her to do it. He would go away and return for her after supper.
So, during the next hour while their delayed dinner waited, Ethel patched out her previous account to Bennet of the happenings at St. Florentin with a statement of the circumstances which preceded her meeting with Barney. Of course, she did not repeat the merely personal details of Barney's early life which he had related to her, but she told of his search for his own people; of his experience with the Adleys in London; of the apparent attempt of her own father to communicate with him or with her through him; and she showed Bennet her letter received here on Scott Street.
During the first half of the hour, Bennet, of course, called her crazy over and over again; then—very like indeed to his grandfather—he became, not less contemptuous, but more interested. He cross-questioned, he tried to make Ethel contradict herself; he examined the envelope and postmark of Ethel's letter from Huston Adley; he again pronounced the entire affair a lunatic's hoax and then determined to accompany his cousin and Barney to the sitting with Mrs. Davol that night.
So he stayed to dinner; and when Barney returned, Bennet knew almost everything which Ethel did, except the fact that their cousin Agnes had had three prints of a group photograph which portrayed Barney Loutrelle and the additional amazing fact, which had come to Ethel's own consciousness only during the process of Bennet's cross-questioning of her. This fact was that the great, old room in the new house on Resurrection Rock had been, once, the salon in the ancient wing of the château of Chenontresor, which for four hundred years had been in the family of Hilaire de Chenal whom her aunt Cecilia had married.
The recollection of that ancient room, visited by Ethel when she was a child, had come to her with the indubitable clearness with which, in moments of intensity, remembrances may return; and in connection with it, she now was aware that several years ago her uncle Hilaire, having gambled too recklessly and having exhausted the money which her grandfather had supplied, had sold Chenontresor.
This fact was so certain to her and yet so astounding and so completely without meaning, that she did not confide it even to Barney. Later on, she knew she would; but to-night she kept it her own secret while, with Barney and her cousin Bennet—and followed by the man whom her grandfather had hired to watch her—she went to the house of the medium Davol to speak to and hear from her father, who was dead, and from whomsoever else among the dead had anything to say to Barney or to herself.