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Amazed, almost in terror, as though it looked on one returning from the grave, for an instant there was silence. And then men shrieked and sobbed, and the night was rent with their exultant yell of welcome.
With their backs pressed against the railings of the garden, Peter and McKildrick looked up at the figures on the balcony with eyes that saw but dimly.
"So Roddy got away with it," said Peter. "Pino Vega, please write!
_Viva_ the White Mice!"
With a voice that shook suspiciously, McKildrick protested.
"Let's get out of this," he said, "or I shall start singing the doxology."
An hour later, alone on the flat roof of Miramar, leaning on the parapet, were two young people. Above them were the blue-black sky and white stars of the tropics; from below rose the happy cheers of the mob and the jubilant strains of a triumphant march.
"To-morrow," said Roddy, "I am going to ask your father a favor. I am going to ask him for the use for two hours of the cell he last occupied."
"And why?" protested Inez.
"I want it for a friend," said Roddy. "Pedro tells me my friend is the man who sent word to San Carlos to have the White Mice locked up and your father moved into another cell. I want the new Commandante to lock my friend in that cell, and to tell him he is to remain there the rest of his natural life. Two hours later, the White Mice will visit him, and will smile on him through the bars. Then I'll unlock the door, and give him his 'pa.s.sage-money home and a month's wages.' His name is Caldwell."
"I had no idea you were so vindictive," said Inez.
"It is rather," said Roddy, "a sense of humor. It makes the punishment fit the crime."
He turned, and drawing closer, looked at her wistfully, appealingly.
"Your father," he whispered, "is free."
The girl drew a long breath of happiness.
"Yes," she sighed.
"I repeat," whispered Roddy, "your father is free."
"I don't understand," answered the girl softly.
"Have you forgotten!" cried Roddy, "You forbade me to tell you that I loved you until he was free."
Inez looked up at him, and the light of the stars fell in her eyes.
"What will you tell me?" she whispered.
"I will tell you," said Roddy, "the name of a girl who is going to be kissed in one second."