While still she sat sombrely looking out over the city's roofs, Humiston's card was brought to her, and at the moment, in her loneliness and doubt, he seemed like an old friend. "Tell him to come up," she said, with instant cordiality, and her face shone with innocent pleasure when she met him. "I'm mighty glad to see you," she frankly said, in greeting.
He misconceived her feeling, and took advantage of it to retain her hand. "I assure you I am delighted to find you again."
"I thought you'd forgot us."
His eyes expressed a bold admiration as he answered: "I have done nothing but remember you. I've been in Pittsburg (only got back to town yesterday), and here I am." He looked about. "Where is the Captain?"
She withdrew her hand. "He's out looking for his father. He'll return soon. He's liable to look in any minute now."
"You are lovelier than ever. How is the Captain?"
"Pretty well. He gets tired fairly easy, but he feels better than he did."
His look of eager intensity embarrassed her. After a little pause, he remarked: "I am holding you to your promise. Can't you come over to my studio this afternoon ?"
"No, not to-day. I must be here when the Captain comes. He may bring the old father along, and he'd feel lost if I should be gone. Maybe I could come tomorrow."
"Don't bring the Captain unless you have to—he'll be bored," he said, in the hope that she would get his full meaning. "I want to introduce you to some friends of mine."
"Oh, don't do that!" she protested. "I'm afraid of your friends—they're all so way-wised while I am hardly bridle-broke."
"You need not fear," he replied; "you are most to be envied. No one can have more than health, wealth, and youth and beauty. I would not hesitate to introduce you anywhere." His admiration was so outspoken, so choicely worded, that she could not distrust him, though Mrs. Moss had more than once hinted to her that he was not to be entirely honored. "He isn't a man to be careless with," she had once said, and yet he seemed so high-minded, so profoundly concerned with the beautiful world of art. How could a single-hearted Western girl believe ill of him ? He could not be evil in the ways in which men were wicked in Sibley. His sensitive face was too weary and his eyes too sad.
He was adroit enough to make his call short, and withdrew, leaving a very pleasant impression in her mind. She felt distinctly less lonely, now that she knew he was in the city, and she was still at the window musing about him when Haney returned, bringing his father with him.
The elder Haney interested and amused her in spite of her perplexities—he was so quaintly of the old type of Irishman and so absurdly small to be the father of a giant. He carried a shrewd and kindly face, withered and toothless, yet not without a certain charm of line. Mart's fine profile was like his sire's, only larger, bolder, and calmer.
With a chuckle he introduced him. "Bertie, this is me worthless old dad." And Patrick, though he was sidling and side-stepping with the awkwardness of a cat on wet ice, still retained his Celtic self-possession.
"Lave Mart to slander the soorce av aal his good qualities," he retorted. "He was iver an uncivil divil to me—after the day he first thrun me down, the big gawk."
Mart took the little man by the collar and twirled him about. " Luk at 'im! Did he ever feel the like of such does in his life?"
Patrick grinned a wide, silent, mirthful grimace. "Sure me heart is warmed wid 'em. I feel as well trussed as me lady's footman."
It was plain that every thread on the old man was new. Mart explained. "I stripped him to the buff and built him up plumb to his necktie, which is green —the wan thing he would have to his own taste. Tomorrow we go to the tooth-factory."
"'Tis a waste of good money," interjected Patrick. "I ate soup."
" Soup be damned! Ye've manny a steak to eat with me, ye contrary little baboon. 'Tis a pity if I can't do as I like with me own. Do as I say, and be gay."
Patrick cackled again, and his little twinkling eyes were half hid. "' Ye may load me with jewels and goold, me lad, but divil a once do I allow a man wid a feet-lathe boring-machine to enter me head."
"Ye have nothing to bore, ye old jackass! Divil a rock is left to prospect in—so don't fuss."
Bertha interjected a question. "Where did you find him?"
"Marking up in a pool-room. Nice place for the father of Captain Haney! 'Come out o' that,' I says, 'or fight me.' And the old fox showed gooms at me, and says he: 'I notice ye're crippled, Mart. I think I'll jest take what ye owe me out of yer hide.'" They both chuckled at the recollection of it. Then Mart went on: "I'll not disgrace me wife by telling what the old tramp had on. I tuck him by the shoulder and I said: 'Have ye anny Sunday clothes?' I said. 'Narry a thread,' says he. 'Come along with me,' I says. 'You can't visit my wife in the hotel till every thread on yer corpus is changed, for Donahue keeps a dirty place. So here he is—scrubbed, fumigated, barbered, and tailored; and when he gets his cellulide teeth he'll make as slick a little Irishman as ever left the old sod." Here his face became sadly tender. "I wish the mother was alive, too; I'd make her rustle in silks, so I would. Heaven rest her!"
The father's face grew suddenly accusing in line. "Ye waited too long, ye vagabond. Yer change of heart comes too late."
I know it—I know it! But I could never find time till a man with a shotgun pointed the way to it. Now I have all the time there is, and she's gone."
In this moment of passing shadow Bertha caught a glimpse of the significance of the scene—of the wonder, almost alarm, which filled the old man's heart as he stood there scared of the flaming splendor of the room into which the sunlight fell, exaggerating its gold and pink and green, but bringing out the excellence of the furnishing, the richness of the silk tapestry.