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Section II.

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"Because your long walk is a pretence. You are playing false. There is some woman that you go to see at West Point, at Highland Falls, who knows where?"

Keene laughed again.

"Certainly you don't know, my dear fellow; and neither do I. Since when has walking become a vice in your estimation? You seem to be in a fierce mood. What's the matter?"

"I will tell you what's the matter. You have been acting like a brute to the girl you profess to love."

"Plain words! But between friends frankness is best. Did she ask you to tell me?"

"No! You know too well she would die before she would speak. You are killing her, that is what you are doing with your devilish moods and mysteries. You must stop. Do you hear? You must give her up."

"I hear well enough, and it sounds like a word for her and two for yourself. Is that it?"

"Damn you," cried the younger man, "let the words go! we'll settle it this way"----and he sprang at the other's throat.

Keene, cool and well-braced, met him with a heavy blow in the chest. He recoiled, and I rushed between them, holding Graham back, and pleading for self-control. As we stood thus, panting and confused, on the edge of the cliff, a singing voice floated up to us from the shadows across the valley. It was Herrick's song again:

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    A heart as soft, a heart as kind,
    A heart as sound and free
    Is in the whole world thou canst find,
    That heart I'll give to thee.

"Come, gentlemen," I cried, "this is folly, sheer madness. You can never deal with the matter in this way. Think of the girl who is singing down yonder. What would happen to her, what would she suffer, from scandal, from her own feelings, if either of you should be killed, or even seriously hurt by the other? There must be no quarrel between you."

"Certainly," said Keene, whose poise, if shaken at all, had returned, "certainly, you are right. It is not of my seeking, nor shall I be the one to keep it up. I am willing to let it pass. It is but a small matter at most."

I turned to Graham--"And you?"

He hesitated a little, and then said, doggedly "On one condition."

"And that is?"

"Keene must explain. He must answer my question."

"Do you accept?" I asked Keene.

"Yes and no!" he replied. "No! to answering Graham's question. He is not the person to ask it. I wonder that he does not see the impropriety, the absurdity of his meddling at all in this affair. Besides, he could not understand my answer even if he believed it. But to the explanation, I say, Yes! I will give it, not to Graham, but to you. I make you this proposition. To-morrow is Sunday. We shall be excused from service if we tell the master that we have important business to settle together. You shall come with me on one of my long walks. I will tell you all about them. Then you can be the judge whether there is any harm in them."

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The Blue Flower
Henry van Dyke

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