Part 3 out of 3
it couldn't have been them really. The last time was at Louis
Martin's, and the fellow I mistook for Edwin was dancing all by
himself in the middle of the floor."
I admitted it was pretty queer.
I was away for a few days after that in the country. When I got back I
found a pile of telegrams waiting for me. They were all from Florence,
and they all wanted me to go to Madison Avenue. The last of the batch,
which had arrived that morning, was so peremptory that I felt as if
something had bitten me when I read it.
For a moment I admit I hung back. Then I rallied. There are times in a
man's life when he has got to show a flash of the old bulldog pluck,
don't you know, if he wants to preserve his self-respect. I did then.
My grip was still unpacked. I told my man to put it on a cab. And in
about two ticks I was bowling off to the club. I left for England next
day by the _Lusitania_.
About three weeks later I fetched up at Nice. You can't walk far at
Nice without bumping into a casino. The one I hit my first evening was
the Casino Municipale in the Place Massena. It looked more or less of
a Home From Home, so I strolled in.
There was quite a crowd round the boule tables, and I squashed in. And
when I'd worked through into the front rank I happened to look down
the table, and there was Edwin, with a green Tyrolese hat hanging over
one ear, clutching out for a lot of five-franc pieces which the
croupier was steering toward him at the end of a rake.
I was feeling lonesome, for I knew no one in the place, so I edged
round in his direction.
Halfway there I heard my name called, and there was Mrs. Darrell.
I saw the whole thing in a flash. Old man Craye hadn't done a thing to
prevent it--apart from being eccentric, he was probably glad that
Edwin had had the sense to pick out anybody half as good a sort--and
the marriage had taken place. And here they were on their honeymoon.
I wondered what Florence was thinking of it.
"Well, well, well, here we all are," I said. "I've just seen Edwin. He
seems to be winning."
"Dear boy!" she said. "He does enjoy it so. I think he gets so much
more out of life than he used to, don't you?"
"Sure thing. May I wish you happiness? Why didn't you let me know and
collect the silver fish-slice?"
"Thank you so much, Mr. Pepper. I did write to you, but I suppose you
never got the letter."
"Mr. Craye didn't make any objections, then?"
"On the contrary. He was more in favor of the marriage than anyone."
"And I'll tell you why," I said. "I'm rather a chump, you know, but I
observe things. I bet he was most frightfully grateful to you for
taking Edwin in hand and making him human."
"Why, you're wonderful, Mr. Pepper. That is exactly what he said
himself. It was that that first made us friends."
"I'm afraid Florence has taken the thing a little badly. But I hope to
win her over in time. I want all my children to love me."
"All your what?"
"I think of them as my children, you see, Mr. Pepper. I adopted them
as my own when I married their father. Did you think I had married
Edwin? What a funny mistake. I am very fond of Edwin, but not in that
way. No, I married Mr. Craye. We left him at our villa tonight, as he
had some letters to get off. You must come and see us, Mr. Pepper. I
always feel that it was you who brought us together, you know. I
wonder if you will be seeing Florence when you get back? Will you give
her my very best love?"