The Search (Chapter 9, page 1 of 8)

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Chapter 9

Ruth tried to control her perturbation and meet her guest with an unruffled countenance, but there was something about the bland smug countenance of Lieutenant Wainwright that irritated her. To have her first pleasant visit with Cameron suddenly broken up in this mysterious fashion, and Wainwright substituted for Cameron was somehow like taking a bite of some pleasant fruit and having it turn out plain potato in one's mouth. It was so sudden, like that. She could not seem to get her equilibrium. Her mind was in a whirl of question and she could not focus it on her present caller nor think of anything suitable to say to him. She was not even sure but that he was noticing that she was distraught.

To have John Cameron leave in that precipitate manner at the sight of Harry Wainwright! It was all too evident that he had seen him through the window. But they were fellow townsmen, and had gone to school together! Surely he knew him! Of course, Harry was a superior officer, but Cameron would not be the kind of man to mind that. She could not understand it. There had been a look in his face--a set look! There must be something behind it all. Some reason why he did not want to be seen by Wainwright. Surely Cameron had nothing of which to be ashamed! The thought brought a sudden dismay. What did she know about Cameron after all? A look, a smile, a bit of boyish gallantry. He might be anything but fine in his private life, of course, and Harry might be cognizant of the fact. Yet he did not look like that. Even while the thought forced itself into her mind she resented it and resisted it. Then turning to her guest who was giving an elaborate account of how he had saved a woman's life in an automobile accident, she interrupted him: "Harry, what do you know about John Cameron?" she asked impulsively.

Wainwright's face darkened with an ugly frown.

"More than I want to know," he answered gruffly. "He's rotten! That's all! Why?" He eyed her suspiciously.

There was something in his tone that put her on the defensive at once: "Oh, I saw him to-day, and I was wondering," she answered evasively.

"It's one of the annoyances of army life that we have to be herded up with all sorts of cattle!" said Wainwright with a disdainful curl of his baby mustache. "But I didn't come here to talk about John Cameron. I came to tell you that I'm going to be married, Ruth. I'm going to be married before I go to France!"

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