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El Dorado

12.
What Love Is
"Well, now, Armand, what is it?" asked Blakeney, the moment the footsteps of his
friends had died away down the stone stairs, and their voices had ceased to
echo in the distance.
"You guessed, then, that there was ... something?" said the younger man, after a
slight hesitation.
"Of course."
Armand rose, pushing the chair away from him with an impatient nervy gesture.
Burying his hands in the pockets of his breeches, he began striding up and down
the room, a dark, troubled expression in his face, a deep frown between his eyes.
Blakeney had once more taken up his favourite position, sitting on the corner of
the table, his broad shoulders interposed between the lamp and the rest of the
room. He was apparently taking no notice of Armand, but only intent on the
delicate operation of polishing his nails.
Suddenly the young man paused in his restless walk and stood in front of his
friend--an earnest, solemn, determined figure.
"Blakeney," he said, "I cannot leave Paris to-morrow."
Sir Percy made no reply. He was contemplating the polish which he had just
succeeded in producing on his thumbnail.
"I must stay here for a while longer," continued Armand firmly. "I may not be able
to return to England for some weeks. You have the three others here to help you
in your enterprise outside Paris. I am entirely at your service within the compass
of its walls."
Still no comment from Blakeney, not a look from beneath the fallen lids. Armand
continued, with a slight tone of impatience apparent in his voice:
"You must want some one to help you here on Sunday. I am entirely at your
service ... here or anywhere in Paris ... but I cannot leave this city ... at any rate,
not just yet...."
Blakeney was apparently satisfied at last with the result of his polishing
operations. He rose, gave a slight yawn, and turned toward the door.
"Good night, my dear fellow," he said pleasantly; "it is time we were all abed. I
am so demmed fatigued."
"Percy!" exclaimed the young man hotly.
"Eh? What is it?" queried the other lazily.
"You are not going to leave me like this--without a word?"
"I have said a great many words, my good fellow. I have said 'good night,' and
remarked that I was demmed fatigued."
He was standing beside the door which led to his bedroom, and now he pushed it
open with his hand.
"Percy, you cannot go and leave me like this!" reiterated Armand with rapidly
growing irritation.
"Like what, my dear fellow?" queried Sir Percy with good-humoured impatience.
"Without a word--without a sign. What have I done that you should treat me like a
child, unworthy even of attention?"
 
 
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