The latter, who was still masquerading under the name of Lester Armstrong, had been on a continuous spree ever since the night he had wedded the little beauty, and Halloran had let him take his course, saying to himself that there was plenty of time in the future to carry out their scheme. For once he found Kendale partially sober.
On this particular afternoon Kendale had lain in wait for his cousin at the entrance of Marsh & Co.'s to waylay him when he came from the office. He must see him, he told himself, and Lester must let him have another loan.
He had given Halloran his promise to abstain from touching even a drop of liquor, fully realizing it to be his mortal foe; but with Kendale a promise amounted to scarcely a flip of his white fingers when it ran contrary to his own desires. He told himself that he must have a "bracer" to steady his nerves.
Kendale arose to greet her in his usual impressive, languid, courteous fashion, managing to whisper in Claire's ear hastily: "Make some excuse to leave the drawing-room for a few minutes, dear, and while you are gone I will broach the all-important subject to your mother." Mrs.
"That's all bosh and moonshine," hiccoughed Kendale; "respect and high pedestal of honor and all that sort of thing. You're among the clouds; get down to earth. I'm only a man you mustn't take me for a little god.
I'm chilled to the marrow with the cold, standing out there in the snow." There was a faint move of the little bundle huddled up in the corner. She fell forward in a dead faint. "So much the better," cried Kendale. "She will not bother us until we've had time to formulate our plans. Ha, ha, ha! how easy it is for a sharp-witted fellow like myself to make a million of money!"
Lester Armstrong succeeded in getting a position for Kendale with the same firm with which he was employed, but at the end of the first week Clinton Kendale threw it up with disgust, declaring that what he had gone through these six days was too much for him. He had rather die than work. He borrowed a hundred dollars from his Cousin Lester and suddenly disappeared.
"For my sake," she added, "Mr. Armstrong has promised to let you go free, providing you go with me." "It is false!" shouted Kendale. "All you say is a lie, woman!" "The man who accompanied us to the altar a year ago is here," he said. "He has with him my marriage certificate," pointing toward some one on the threshold, adding, "come forward, please."
One was Clinton Kendale, whom everybody was speaking of as "the rage of New York," the handsomest actor who had ever trod the metropolitan boards, the idol of the matinee girls, and the greatest attraction the delighted managers had gotten hold of for years.
And Halloran, who had left a sickbed to accompany her, came slowly forward. "So you are against me, too!" cried Kendale. "Then all is up, indeed. I acknowledge that all that has been said is true. I had a few weeks of a gay, merry life, and I'm not sorry, either. Come, Gertrude!" And without a backward glance they slowly left the Fairfax mansion.