You Can’t Deceive the Blind

HULBERT FOOTNER January 1 1938

You Can’t Deceive the Blind

HULBERT FOOTNER January 1 1938

You Can’t Deceive the Blind

The story of a love that was stronger than death

HULBERT FOOTNER

AFTER HAVING spent two years in building a road across Honduras, Hugh Weston found New York good. On a morning in early spring the sunshine on the west side of the avenue had a sparkle like wine. How it set off the girls! The senoritas had been all right in their way, but a little too sultry; there was a candid sweetness in the New York variety that melted his heart. It was clear too. that he was pleasing in their eyes. I lis deep tropical tan was piquant at that time of year; it went well with his sun-bleached hair and very blue eyes. After two years in the jungle he had an eager, unused air that challenged the city girls.

He was sharing Jack Clemson’s apartment. He couldn’t have been reintroduced to New York under better auspices, because Jack was a rich and philosophical young idler who had become famous without trying. Somebody had lately included him in a list of the ten most prominent bachelors about town and he was much in demand. Jack was a good fellow in spite of it all. The tall pair of them strolled up the avenue without a care on their minds.

At Fifty-second St ret't Jack entered the building where his tailor hung out, and Hugh, while he waited for him, remained standing at the street dxr for the sheer pleasure of watching the passing show. The handsomest street in the world in his opinion; the handsomest shops, and the handsomest and best-dressed women.

His attention was arrested by a man and a woman of unusual distinction coming along the sidewalk. The woman was about thirty; dark and slender, with a quiet smile. Very plainly dressed but with a (lair for perfection; a work of art tcx) choice for vulgar beholders. The man was about ten years older; thick, broad-shouldered, red-faced, handsome, with, very unexpectedly, a wistful expression in his eyes. They were walking along smartly, talking with animation. Hugh, envying the man, wondered if they were man and wife. Probably not; they had too much to say to each other, and anyhow the girl had a virginal air; she didn’t look like anybody’s wife. She made Hugh’s heart ache a little, because the reticent, delicate type was his unrealized ideal.

They were under his eye for a space of fifty yards or so, and he watched them with pleasure. When they came to the curb of a cross street the woman touched the man on top of his forearm, and he stepped down. When they reached the other side she touched him under his elbow and he stepped up. When some blundering sky-gazers got in their way, she touched the inside of his arm and he turned to the right. Suddenly Hugh grasped that the man was blind. That accounted for the expression of his eyes. He was blind, and they had worked out this code of signals to protect his pride. Then of course they were married; nobody but a wife would take so much trouble. What a grand pal she must be !

Alongside him where he stood was the show window of a fashionable Japanese store, and in the window was one rare old print and nothing else. The man and the woman stopped in front of it, and she said, in a low poignant voice that stirred Hugh no less than her beauty:

“They’ve got a Utamara in the window today. It’s a fine one. It represents a lady and her female servant out

walking at night in the snow. The lady is holding a paper umbrella over both their heads; the servant carries a paper lantern on a short bamboo stick in one hand, and under the other arm she has a curious black wooden box. There is a rich black background with falling snowflakes.”

“That’s a well-known print,” he said with a smile of pleasure. “I remember it. How much do they ask for it?” ‘Two hundred and fifty.”

He laughed. “Only about double what it’s worth. There was a fine impression in the Hirakawa collection that went for ninety.”

At this moment Jack Clemson came through the door behind Hugh. It appeared that these two w'ere old friends of his.

“Hello, Geoffrey and Nina!”

Jack brought Hugh forward. “May I introduce my friend. Hugh Weston? . . . Mr. and Mrs. Gwynne. Hugh has been lost in Honduras for a couple of years.”

NINA GWYNNE gave Hugh a frank and friendly smile and he fell completely and helplessly in love with her. Her smile had a heartbreaking quality that he could not explain.

She said: “He looks as if he had come from somewhere a long way off.”

It would be my luck, thought Hugh ruefully—a happily married woman!

"If you’re not too busy, bring Mr. Weston to tea this afternoon,” Nina said to Jack.

The Gwynnes went one way; Hugh and Jack the other. Hugh, fearful of giving himself away, waited for Jack to say something about the Gwynnes, but Jack was not so disposed, and Hugh was forced to say casually: “An

“Fine people! Fine people!” said Jack warmly. “They renew one’s faith in humanity.”

“How did he lose his eyesight?”

“So you noticed that he was blind. Few do at first meeting. He’s a war casualty. Blown up leading a charge in Belleau Wood. Got all kinds of medals.”

“And she married him in that condition?”

“Nothing could stop her. Gwynne had been a football hero and all that, and he was extraordinarily sensitive about his injuries. When he came home from the War, he shut himself up in the gloomy old mansion of the Gwynnes with his servants and refused to see anybody. He was so resentful of being pitied that he quarrelled with all his old friends. This went on for years. In the end this girl. Nina Beauregard, saw him sitting in the park with a servant. The piteousness of his situation roused her to such a fury of compassion that nothing would do but she must marry him. T'liis was twelve years ago. She was a debutante and the most beautiful girl of her season. She must be close to thirty now.”

My age, thought Hugh.

“They say that Gwynne was downright brutal in his efforts to discourage lier,” Jack went on. “But it did no good. And of course the i*xr fellow was starving for human

affection. He had to give in. And so they were married.” “Have they any children?”

“No. They can’t have any,” said Jack dryly. “Gwynne, it seems, received other injuries besides that to his eyes.” “Did she know that when she married him?”

“Certainly she knew it. Gwynne told her father.”

“Do you suppose they’re happy?”

“Surely ! You have only to look at them. They’ve built up a wonderful life together. She knows exactly how to handle him. No pity! The blindness is ignored. She brought him out of his hole. They go around now like any normal people. They have every interest in common; books, music, art.”

“That isn’t everything.” said Hugh.

“No, it isn’t everything. But after all, she chose it. And when I look around at the cat and dog existence of most of my friends, this marriage seems like a brilliant success . . . Maybe we overrate the importance of sex.”

“I wonder!” said Hugh.

'T'HE BIG Gwynne living room overlooked the East •*River from a considerable height. It neither conformed to a set period nor followed the fashions of the moment; it was just comfortable and harmonious. After the crude Spanish-American interiors of Honduras, it afflicted Hugh with a bachelor’s homesickness. The talk, too, was refreshing. Geoffrey and Nina were big enough people to be honest, and they expected it of their guests. They got round to talking about marriage.

“Married people should behave toward each other as if they were merely pleasant acquaintances,” said Geoffrey.

Hugh, being unmarried, did not feel qualified to express an opinion. He looked at Nina thinking, Not my idea at all! You should be mine! mine!

“It’s the notion that two are made one by the marriage ceremony that causes all the trouble,” said Nina.

Hugh thought, I wish I could show you differently. “Exactly.” said Geoffrey. “Nina and I have practically two apartments here, and we eat alone or together as we may happen to feel. We make a point of telephoning before visiting each other.”

Hugh looked at Nina. She was smiling in agreement. He thought, Well, what you’ve never known you don’t miss, of course.

Jack said grinning: “What’s the use of getting married if you can’t fight with your wife?”

“You’re a sentimentalist,” said Nina.

It was obvious that there were no vulgar quarrels in this household. Was it enough? Hugh asked himself. No! There was a delicate, frosty suggestion of a want, an un fulfillment in Nina’s lovely face. Better a thousand times to love and to quarrel than to exist in this bright cold air of reasonableness. How love would cause that face to bloom!

In his own home, Geoffrey Gwynne moved around with entire freedom. His eyes sought your face when he addressed you and sparkled with intelligence. Hugh noticed that each piece of furniture had its place marked on the floor as in a stage set. Upon first entering, Jack had drawn a chair up to talk to Nina. When he left her she unobtrusively moved it back to its right place. Thus Geoffrey could be sure of not falling over anything. The walls of the room were lined with bookcases breast high. Above them were hung Geoffrey’s beloved Japanese prints. When Hugh displayed an interest in the prints, Geoffrey led him around pointing out their beauties. “We change them every once in a w:hile to avoid the danger of their fading in the light,” he said. His sureness of movement was uncanny.

While Geoffrey was talking, Hugh could look at Nina. Nina’s beauty was more of the spirit than of the flesh. He

\would have liked to see her look a little less spiritual. Yet her flesh was lovely too. It had a luminous quality that brought back to him a scene in an antique shop in Naples. The old dealer had lowered a lighted candle into an alabaster vase to make the marble glow. When Nina's eyes came travelling around 10 his, he was absurdly happy. I have aroused her interest, he told himself.

Tea was brought in by a manservant of about Geoffrey s own age, whom they addressed as Ackerman. Apparently he bore a special relationship to the family. They spoke to him almost as if he were one of themselves. Outwardly the well-trained servant, there was something distinct about him; something you would not soon forget. He was tall and lean with two bald spots running far back from his temples and a lank lock of hair between. It was not his queer looks which set him apart, but the expression of his eyes; a deep, slumbrous, rather terrible look which did not alter when he smiled.

After he had left the room Nina said to Hugh: “I saw you looking at our Ackerman. I suppose he struck you as rather queer.”

“Well, unusual,” admitted Hugh.

“He was shell-shocked,” explained Geoffrey. “He was in my company during the War. One ol the best. In fact it was Ackerman who carried me to the rear when I was wounded. Afterward he got his. He has been with me ever since he left hospital.”

ACKERMAN brought in some new people, a Mr. and -¿V Mrs. Bland. Soon afterward Jack rose to go, and Hugh followed suit.

“Must you go too?” said Nina, raising her eyes to his. They had a liquid shine that affected Hugh with a stab of pleasure.

“I don’t have to go,” he said quickly.

His warmth embarrassed her a little. “These people

won’t stay long,” she murmured. “And 1 know Geoffrey wants to talk to you about Honduras.”

The Blands were a stuffy, middle-aged couple of the type who always start telling a story in a kind of antiphony; Bland’s baritone answering Mrs. Bland’s soprano, and sometimes uniting with it—but not in harmony. The story interested the tellers more than the hearers. Hugh, bored, sat looking down his nose.

“What are you concentrating on?” whispered Nina.

“The Blands’ departure,” he muttered.

She laughed.

The Blands were finally shown out.

“I’m so glad you stayed them out. Weston,” said Geoffrey. “Weston is our kind, isn’t he. Nina?”

“Quite,” said Nina, looking elsewhere.

“How long are you going to stay among us?” asked Geoffrey.

“I don’t know,” said Hugh. “My firm has given me a choice. I can go down to Colombia to build another road, or I can stay here in New York and take an executive position.”

“Which way do you incline?”

Hugh looked at Nina. “Until I got to New York I was all for Colombia to build another road,” he said, “but now I'm wavering. A man must settle down some time.

“Why?” said Geoffrey. “That’s what everybody says, but I can’t see it. Why should a man settle down unless lie’s forced to?”

“The settled man longs for the wilds and the wild man longs for the settlements,” said Hugh.

Geoffrey questioned him with keen interest about his experiences in Latin America. Like most young men, Hugh had no notion of himself as a talker. He was inclined to despise talking men. But with Nina for a listener, he was seized with a desire to express himself. He suddenly saw how amusing and picturesque Honduras had been; how

exciting some of his encounters with the rapidly succeeding governments.

Geoffrey asked the questions and Hugh made the answers to Nina. She directed his attention to her husband with a slight gesture. Hugh saw that a shadow had fallen on Geoffrey’s expressive face. His hearing was so acute that he knew when the speaker’s face was turned away from him. After that Hugh talked to Geoffrey and only turned his eyes in Nina’s direction.

Nina’s eyes were fixed on Hugh’s face. As he talker!, a little color crept intonier cheeks. It was what Hugh had longed to see there. It irradiated her. There was a gixxideal of the young girl in Nina; he had marked it from the first. The feelings that hik'd her were so new to her that she did not immediately realize their danger. 11er soft bright eyes gave everything away.

Hugh was wildly happy. She likes me! he thought. She feels the same as I do. Anyhow, she will. It’s a miracle!

When he got up to go he was asked to dinner on the next night but one. “Shall we make it a party or just the three of us?” asked Geoffrey.

“Just the three of us.” said Hugh quickly.

“That’s what I would like, Uxi.”

"Just the three of us,” amended Nina, “and a girl for Mr. Weston.”

Hugh shook his head at her, smiling. She got it. It was their first secret from Geoffrey. A tide of warm color crept up from her neck, and she turned to straighten some txxiks on the shelf behind her.

HUGH SOON got in the habit of stopping at the Gwynnes’ every afternoon. When there were no other guests he stayed to dinner. Geoffrey liked Hugh and made no secret of it, and I Iugli was drawn to Geoffrey too. Maybe there was something artificial in the elaborate defense

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You Can't Deceive the Blind

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mechanism Geoffrey had built up, but one admired him for his gameness. He was always present when Hugh came, but the latter did not have to hide his feelings toward Nina on that account; he could speak to her with his eyes. After the first day Nina was more reserved, but since she had already betrayed herself, Hugh was content to wait.

Sometimes he ventured to sit beside her for awhile. When their hands touched accidentally, his whole being was flooded with rapture, and his instinct told him that it was the same with her. Owing to the circumstances of Hugh’s life, this was the first time that he had fallen completely in love. The longer it is delayed the more powerful it is bound to be. There was a certain innocence in his feelings, too. Experience had not taught him how to hide them. He was so full of his happiness that there was no room for doubts and fears of the future. I le was lost in a dream where hard thought had not yet obtruded.

One afternoon when his visits had been continued for four dreamlike weeks, Nina telephoned him to come at four instead of five. He was admitted to the apartment by a maidservant and, on entering the big living room, discovered to his delight that Nina was alone. He kept her hand in his, enveloping her in his warm gaze; he was longing to draw her to him, but something in her grave look forbade it. She moved away.

“Where’s Geoffrey?” he asked.

“I let Ackerman go out with him,” she said. “I didn’t feel up to it.”

“You are not well?” Hugh said, full of concern.

Nina hesitated before answering. She raised her head suddenly. “No,” she said, “I mustn’t start with a lie. I am perfectly well. I let Geoffrey go without me because I wanted to talk to you.”

“Nina !”

“Sit down,” she murmured, indicating a chair at a little distance from her sofa.

“Why not beside you?”

“We must talk without without . . .”

“I understand," he said smiling. “We can’t tal when we’re close together.”

“I am wondering,” she said, “if we can be terribly honest. I mean, as honest as men and women almost never are with each other.”

“That is what I would like,” he said.

“You mustn’t come any more,” she said. Hugh couldn't take it seriously. “Why not?”

“It is becoming too difficult. Geoffrey can’t see anything, but he is extraordinarily sensitive. He must soon know. Already he is asking me awkward questions.”

“What, for instance?”

“Well, he wanted to know what you looked like.”

“What did you tell him?” he asked smiling. “No, don’t tell me,” he added quickly.

But she did. “I told him you were one of the handsomest men 1 had ever seen.” Hugh blushed—-not with displeasure. “When am I to start in being honest?” he asked.

“Don’t laugh,” she begged.

“A man can laugh and be in deadly earnest,” he said. “I love you.”

Nina became very still. “I know.”

“I loved you the first time 1 saw you. I felt as if my whole life had been lived in preparation for that moment.”

HE said nothing.

“How about you, Nina?”

She hesitated.

“Be honest.”

“Yes,” she said lowering her head. “I love you.”

He jumped up. “I knew it!”

“Stay where you are!” she said sharply. “I must be beside you.”

“No! Don’t make me leave the room.” There was a quality of pain in her voice that warned him she meant what she said. He sat down sullenly. Silence followed.

“Is the position in Colombia still open?” she asked timidly.

“Yes.”

“Will you take it . . . please . . . for my sake?”

“You have given him twelve years,” he muttered. “Isn’t it enough?”

“Ah, don’t make me argue with you,” she murmured. “It’s so hard and quite

useless. Believe me, I did not send for you until 1 had faced this out with myself.” “Geoffrey would let you go.”

“Of course, he would. That’s why I have to be on my guard against his finding out.” “But this is carrying high-mindedness to an absurdity,” he broke out hotly. “We’re not people in a play; we’re human, we’re warm-blooded, we’re alive! You have never lived until now !”

“Don't!” she pleaded. “You must help me. It would be so easy to give in to you. But it would wreck us all; Geoffrey and you and me.”

“You don’t love him; you have never loved him ! You married him in a spirit of self-sacrifice. You were too young to know what you were doing. It was a beautiful impulse, but it was wrong.”

“I know that now,” she said wearily, “but it can’t be undone.”

"By staying with him you are only perpetuating the wrong. You’re not doing him any good, really. You only remind him hour by hour of the happiness he might have known if he’d had better luck.” "You may be right,” she murmured, “hut it doesn’t make any difference.” “How about me?” he cried. “For me it is you or no one. I’m young and you’re young. Are you going to condemn us both to his fate for a point of honor?”

“It's not a point of honor.” she said. “I don’t know what it is. One knows what one can do. I have made a kind of life for Geoffrey and I can’t destroy it. I cannot leave him! It’s as simple as that.”

Under her gentleness there was something steely, and Hugh knew he was beaten. He took time to steady his voice. “All right.” he said. “So this is to be goodby.”

Nina’s eyes slowly filled. “Must we part in bitterness?”

“Must I give you up altogether?” Hugh replied. “If you feel obliged to stay with him, couldn’t we—steal happiness?”

“No!” she cried sharply.

He turned sore again. “Have I shocked you?”

She smiled at him as if she had been completely his. “No, dear. You couldn’t shock me. But it wouldn't work. His intuition would tell him. That would be worse than leaving him.”

Hugh couldn’t stay sore with her. “All right,'' he said. "The Pastores is sailing tomorrow. I'll be aboard her.” He held out his arms. "Nina, my darling . . . before I go.” he murmured, "a moment to remember . .

She shook her head. “No. Hugh. He would know it as soon as he came in. You can't deceive the blind.”

I Iugh looked at her a long time and went out, string nothing.

VW’HEN GEOFFREY came in, his first * * question was: "Where's Hugh?” Nina had her voice under gxxi control. “He couldn't wait for you. His affairs have suddenly come to a head. I íe sails for Colombia on the Pastores tomorrow.”

“I thought he was going to stay in New York," said Geoffrey in a disappointed voice.

"They made it worth his while to take the job in the field.”

Geoffrey said no more just then. Nina glanced at him uneasily, but his face was smooth.

Later they were together in Geoffrey's study. Nina was making believe to read a novel while Geoffrey wrote a letter. With the aid of an ingenious frame that he had contrived and that Ackerman had made for him, he was able to carry on his own personal correspondence. I íe addressed an envelope in his bold characters, folded his letter, enclosed it and sealed it.

“Come and sit where I can see you,” he said to Nina with a smile. It was one of their domestic jokes.

She rost* and seated herself on the other side of the flat-topped desk, with her clasped hands resting on the edge. Geoffrey. smiling, apix*ared to look deep into her eyes. It was well that it was only pretense, for the frosty look had returned to Nina’s cheeks and her eyes were heavy with pain.

“Did our young friend fall in love with you?” asked Geoffrey.

She Squeezed her hands together. “More or less.” she answered, with a smile in her voice.

“Did you have to send him away?”

“Oh, no. 1 didn't have to do anything. He took himself away.”

"Aren't you sorry?”

“Of course I’m sorry. He has come so close to us during the past month . . . But I’m glad, too; it might have become awkward if he had stayed in New York.” “I shall miss him,” said Geoffrey simply. “He had such a vibrant voice. It brought life into the room when he spoke.”

"Yes,” said Nina. The tears welled up in her eyes. She was afraid to change her position. Bending her head, she closed her eyes and two tears dropped on the mahogany.

"Are you happy?” asked Geoffrey.

She drew a slow breath. “That requires consideration,” she said laughing. “According to you. human beings are never happy after childhood. 1 don’t know whether I’m happy or not, but I’m content.” “You’ve made my life bloom like a garden,” said Geoffrey.

“Mercy ! How flowery !” she said laughing.

Geoffrey laughed too, and reached for another sheet of paper.

Nina’s control escaped her. She began to shake. She got up without haste. “Where are you going?” asked Geoffrey. “You’re dining with me tonight and I have a surprise for you. I must see to it. Back in a moment.”

When she had gone, Geoffrey put down his pen and his hands reached across the desk as if seeking her. His fingertips met with a diffused drop of water on the polished surface of the wood. He conveyed it to his tongue.

TATE THAT night when Nina had gone to bed, Geoffrey, in his study, rang for Ackerman. “Shut the door.” he said. “Sit down and smoke up.” He pushed a box of cigars toward him. “I want to talk.” “Yes, sir.” said Ackerman, with a glance of surprise.

“Skip the sir.” said Geoffrey. “What are we but a pair of old crocks together?” “Yes, sir,” said Ackerman.

Geoffrey grinned at him in mingled exasperation and affection.

“Well, it comes natural to me to sir you,” grumbled Ackerman, “you being a man of education.”

“That didn't bother you when we were in the army.”

“I was too darned independent in those days. When you get old you have more sense.”

“We’re only forty-one,” said Geoffrey quickly.

“What do ages matter? My life ended in ’18. The rest is only a dream.” Ackerman's tone was surly, but Geoffrey was not deceived. “Same here,” he murmured, “just a dream."

“What's wrong?" asked Ackerman. “What do you want to talk about?” “Nothing wrong,” said Geoffrey. “You’re the only one I can talk to freely. You knew me before I started to manufacture a personality.”

Ackerman said nothing.

“But you must talk back,” said Geoffrey. “I can’t see you, I've got to hear your voice.”

“Okay,” growled Ackerman, “I’m with you.”

“I took to you from the first,” said Geoffrey. “You were no yes-man. There was a wholesome astringent quality in you ...”

“What’s astringent?”

“The taste of persimmons.”

Ackerman laughed a dry note. “That's me. A green persimmon.”

“Of course discipline had to be maintained." Geoffrey went on. “but when we were alone together we could let go. When we went out on patrol . . . they often sent us out on patrol.”

"Yeah.” said Ackerman. "We had the name of being daredevils, so-called .

Why do you bring that up now?”

“No particular reason. I just wanted to talk , Look. Ackerman. I’ve decided to try my hand at writing a detective story. The stories you and Nina read to me are such tripe I believe I can do better myself.”

"Oh yeah?” said Ackerman.

“I'll dictate it to you in the mornings

while Nina is busy around the house. We’ll have time on our hands when we go to the country.”

“I can’t do shorthand.”

“It isn’t necessary. I can’t make it up so fast as that. Nina mustn’t know anything about it.”

“Why not?”

“Well, if I can get it published I want it to be a surprise, see? And if I can’t get it published, I don’t want her to know I failed.”

“Okay, lieutenant.”

Geoffrey stroked his chin. “First I want you to buy me a txx)k. It’s a list of drugs, what each is useful for and what its action is. It’s called pharmacopoeia or materia medica, or something like that. They can tell you in any store that specializes in medical books.”

“What do you want it for?” asked Ackerman.

“Well, the victim in my story is poisoned by a drug that kills like a hammer-stroke and leaves no trace in the body afterward. I know there are such drugs and I want to read up about them.”

“Okay,” said Ackerman.

^\N A MORNING in May, Nina and Geoffrey pulled up their horses on the bridge over a branch of the Housatonic River which crossed their place. Geoffrey owned a farm and a wooded hillside in the Berkshires. Wide paths had been cut through the woods so that he could indulge his passion for riding in comparative safety. His horse was trained to follow Nina’s. They halted on the wooden bridge looking downstream, and Nina served as Geoffrey’s eyes.

“You remember how the dogwood trees lean across the stream below the bridge. Their branches almost touch, but not quite; the sun strikes through in broken shafts and touches the water with an almost unbearable dazzle.”

“I get it,” said Geoffrey.

“The dogwood is in full bloom, each tree holding up hundreds of flat white saucers to catch the sunlight. The leaves are only half out. They are as green and fragile as—as . . . Oh, there is nothing so green as young dogwood leaves. The stream is very full. That flat rock where the blue jay likes to perch is entirely covered now.”

“Is the water clear?” asked Geoffrey. “Very clear.”

“There will be fish in it,” he said. He was holding his reins in his left hand and his right was busy in the pocket of his jacket. Nina was on the other side of him.

“About a hundred yards below the bridge.” Nina continued, “the view opens out into a little meadow and the stream curves away out of sight to the left. The meadow grass is extraordinarily rich. Once there was a millixmd there. At present there are half a dozen of your beloved Hereford cattle grazing within sight.” “Thanks,” murmured Geoffrey.

Nina looked at him swiftly. His face was serene. “We mustn’t linger,” she said, “or we’ll be late for lunch. How about a canter to the white oak?”

“Lead on !” he said.

As Nina wheeled her horse, and he heard the pound of hoofs on the wooden floor. Geoffrey jerked his hand from his pocket and conveyed it swiftly to his mouth, throwing his head back. He then threw a little object over the rail. It sparkled in the sun and fell in the water. He clapped heels to the ribs of his horse and pounded after the other. He toppled in the saddle. Nina looked back and screamed.

TUT UGH WESTON switched on the unshaded bulb in his bleak sitting room at Choco Bay. The room contained a table and four wooden chairs; upholstery was forbidden because of termites. The walls were distempered blue. There was a ship in, and the mail was lying on the table. He scattered the letters; nothing interesting. There were also newspapers, the latest a week old. He listlessly tore the wrappers open. There was no kick in newspapers from home; there was no kick in anything

now. However, he sat down to read the headlines.

On an inside page there was a head that brought him leaping to his feet with starting eyes. He dropped back in his chair.

Geoffrey Gwynne Dies on Horseback.

Hugh’s strained eyes flew over the lines of print.

”... Suffered a heart attack while riding with Mrs. Gwynne on their own place . . was dragged a little distance

. . . Autopsy showed that he was dead before he fell . . . heart failure . . . ” Geoffrey’s War record followed, and an account of his remarkable skill in handling himself after he was blinded.

Hugh reached for a cable blank and wrote.

“Limewall, New York.

Imperative personal affairs, necessary ask month’s leave. Must take plane Barranquila Tuesday. Downey capable of taking over. Hugh”