There was something of the look of the hunted animal brought to bay at last in Carlton Dunlap's face as he let himself into his apartment late one night toward the close of the year.
On his breath was the lingering odor of whisky, yet in his eye and hand none of the effects. He entered quietly, although there was no apparent reason for such excessive caution. Then he locked the door with the utmost care, although there was no apparent reason for caution about that, either.
Even when he had thus barricaded himself, he paused to listen with all the elemental fear of the cave man who dreaded the footsteps of his pursuers. In the dim light of the studio apartment he looked anxiously for the figure of his wife. Constance was not there, as she had been on other nights, uneasily awaiting his return. What was the matter? His hand shook a trifle now as he turned the knob of the bedroom door and pushed it softly open.
She was asleep. He leaned over, not realizing that her every faculty was keenly alive to his presence, that she was acting a part.
"Throw something around yourself, Constance," he whispered hoarsely into her ear, as she moved with a little well-feigned start at being suddenly wakened, "and come into the studio. There is something I must tell you tonight, my dear."
"My dear!" she exclaimed bitterly, now seeming to rouse herself with an effort and pretending to put back a stray wisp of her dark hair in order to hide from him the tears that still lingered on her flushed cheeks. "You can say that, Carlton, when it has been every night the same old threadbare excuse of working at the office until midnight?"
She set her face in hard lines, but could not catch his eye.
"Carlton Dunlap," she added in a tone that rasped his very soul, "I am nobody's fool. I may not know much about bookkeeping and accounting, but I can add-and two and two, when the same man but different women compose each two, do not make four, according to my arithmetic, but three, from which,"-she finished almost hysterically the little speech she had prepared, but it seemed to fall flat before the man's curiously altered manner-"from which I shall subtract one."
She burst into tears.
"Listen," he urged, taking her arm gently to lead her to an easy-chair.
"No, no, no!" she cried, now thoroughly aroused, with eyes that again snapped accusation and defiance at him, "don't touch me. Talk to me, if you want to, but don't, don't come near me." She was now facing him, standing in the high-ceilinged "studio," as they called the room where she had kept up in a desultory manner for her own amusement the art studies which had interested her before her marriage. "What is it that you want to say? The other nights you said nothing at all. Have you at last thought up an excuse? I hope it is at least a clever one."
"Constance," he remonstrated, looking fearfully about. Instinctively she felt that her accusation was unjust. Not even that had dulled the hunted look in his face. "Perhaps-perhaps if it were that of which you suspect me, we could patch it up. I don't know. But, Constance, I-I must leave for the west on the first train in the morning." He did not pause to notice her startled look, but raced on. "I have worked every night this week trying to straighten out those accounts of mine by the first of the year and-and I can't do it. An expert begins on them in a couple of days. You must call up the office to-morrow and tell them that I am ill, tell them anything. I must get at least a day or two start before they-"
"Carlton," she interrupted, "what is the matter? What have you-"
She checked herself in surprise. He had been fumbling in his pocket and now laid down a pile of green and yellow banknotes on the table.
"I have scraped together every last cent I can spare," he continued, talking jerkily to suppress his emotion. "They cannot