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down. She took a long breath; her heart astonished to find how exactly he looked returned to its normal' movement. as she remembered him.

Yet, for some unexplained reason, the fact that the door-bell had rung once made it more possible that it would ring again, and she began to feel a slight return of confidence.

A servant opened the door, and in the instant before she turned her head she had time to debate the possibility of a visitor having come in without ringing while the messenger with the striped box was going out. But, no; Pringle was alone.

Pringle had been with the family since her mother was a girl, but, like many redhaired men, he retained an appearance of youth. He wanted to know if he should take away the tea.

She knew perfectly why he asked. He liked to have the tea-things put away before he had his own supper and began his arrangements for the family dinner. She felt that the crisis had come.

If she said yes, she knew that her visitor would come just as tea had disappeared. If she said no, she would sit there alone, waiting for another half-hour, and when she finally did ring and tell Pringle he could take away the tea-things, he would look wise and reproachful. Nevertheless, she did say no, and Pringle, with admirable self-control, withdrew.

The afternoon seemed very quiet. Miss Severance became aware of all sorts of bells that she had never heard beforeother door-bells, telephone-bells in the adjacent houses, loud, hideous bells on motor delivery-wagons, but not her own front door-bell.

Her heart felt like lead. Things would never be the same now. Probably there was some explanation of his not coming, but it could never be really atoned for. The wild romance and confidence in this first visit could never be regained.

And then there was a loud, quick ring at the bell, and at once he was in the room, breathing rapidly, as if he had run upstairs or even from the corner. She could do nothing but stare at him. She had tried in the last ten minutes to remember what he looked like, and now she was

To her horror, the change between her late despair and her present joy was so extreme that she wanted to cry. The best she knew how to do was to pucker her face into a smile and to offer him those chilly finger-tips.

He hardly took them, but said, as if announcing a black, but incontrovertible, fact:

"You 're not a bit glad to see me."

"Oh, yes, I am," she returned, with an attempt at an easy social manner. "Will you have some tea?"

"But why are n't you glad?"

Miss Severance clasped her hands on the edge of the tea-tray and looked down. She pressed her palms together; she set her teeth, but the muscles in her throat. went on contracting; and the heroic struggle was lost.

"I thought you were n't coming," she said, and making no further effort to conceal the fact that her eyes were full of tears she looked straight up at him.

He sat down beside her on the small, low sofa and put his hand on hers.

"But I was perfectly certain to come," he said very gently, "because, you see, I think I love you."

"Do you think I love you?" she asked, seeking information.

"I can't tell," he answered. "Your being sorry I did not come does n't prove anything. We'll see. You're so wonderfully young, my dear!"

"I don't think eighteen is so young. My was married before she was

mother twenty."

He sat silent for a few seconds, and she felt his hand shut more firmly on hers. Then he got up, and, pulling a chair to the opposite side of the table, said briskly:

"And now give me some tea. I have n't had any lunch."

"Oh, why not?" She blew her nose, tucked away her handkerchief, and began her operations on the tea-tray.

"I work very hard," he returned. "You don't know what at, do you? I'm a statistician."

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"You'll hear it a good many times if our acquaintance continues." Then more gravely, but quite parenthetically, he added: "If a firm puts up money for a business, they want to know all about it, of course. I tell them. I 've just been doing a report this afternoon, a wonder; it's what made me late. Shall I tell you about it?"

She nodded with the same eagerness with which ten years before she might have answered an inquiry as to whether he should tell her a fairy-story.

"Well, it was on a coal-mine in Pennsylvania. I'm afraid my report is going to be a disappointment to the firm. The mine 's good, a sound, rich vein, and the labor conditions are n't bad; but there 's one fatal defect-a car shortage on the only railroad that reaches it. They can't make a penny on their old mine until that 's met, and that can't be straightened out for a year, anyhow; and so I shall report against it."

"Car shortage," said Miss Severance. "I never should have thought of that. I think you must be wonderful."

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“I said perhaps never. You can't tell. Life turns up some awfully queer tricks now and then. Last night, for example. I walked into that ball-room thinking of nothing, and there you were all the rest of the room like a sort of shrine for you. I said to a man I was with, 'I want to meet the girl who looks like cream in a gold saucer,' and he introduced us. What could be stranger than that? Not, as a matter of fact, that I ever thought love at first sight impossible, as so many people do."

"But if you don't know the very first thing about a person-" Miss Severance began, but he interrupted:

"You have to begin some time. Every pair of lovers have to have a first meeting, and those who fall in love at once are just that much further ahead." He smiled. "I don't even know your first name."

It seemed miraculous good fortune to have a first name.


"Mathilde," he repeated in a lower tone, and his eyes shone extraordinarily.

Both of them took some time to recover from the intensity of this moment. She wanted to ask him his, but foreseeing that she would immediately be required to use it, and feeling unequal to such an adventure, she decided it would be wiser to wait. It was he who presently went on:

"Is n't it strange to know so little about each other? I rather like it. It's so mad -like opening a chest of buried treasure. You don't know what 's going to be in it, but you know it 's certain to be rare and desirable. What do you do, Mathilde? Live here with your father and mother?"

She sat looking at him. The truth was that she found everything he said so unexpected and thrilling that now and then she lost all sense of being expected to


"Oh, yes," she said, suddenly remembering. "I live here with my mother and stepfather. My mother has married again. She is Mrs. Vincent Farron."

"Did n't I tell you life played strange tricks?" he exclaimed. He sprang up, and took a position on the hearth-rug. "I


know all about him. I once reported on the Electric Equipment Company. That's the same Farron, is n't it? I believe that that company is the most efficient for its size in this country, in the world, perhaps. And Farron is your stepfather! He must be a wonder."

"Yes, I think he is."
"You don't like him?"

"I like him very much. I don't love him."

"The poor devil!"

"I don't believe he wants people to love him. It would bore him. No, that's not quite just. He 's kind, wonderfully kind, but he has no little pleasantnesses. He says things in a very quiet way that make you feel he 's laughing at you, though he never does laugh. He said to me this morning at breakfast, 'Well, Mathilde, was it a marvelous party?' That made me feel as if I used the word 'marvelous' all the time, not a bit as if he really wanted to know whether I had enjoyed myself last night."

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"Now, my grandfather, my mother's father his name is Lanley-[Mr. Lanley evidently was not in active business, for it was plain that Wayne, searching his memory, found nothing]-my grandfather often scolds me terribly for my English, says I talk like a barmaid, although I tell him he ought not to know how barmaids talk,-but he never makes me feel small. Sometimes Mr. Farron repeats, weeks afterward, something I've said, word for word, the way I said it. It makes it sound so foolish. I'd rather he said straight out that he thought I was a


"Perhaps you would n't if he did."

"I like people to be human. Mr. Farron 's not human."

"Does n't your mother think so?" "Mama thinks he 's perfect." "How long have they been married?" "Ages! Five years!"

"And they 're just as much in love?" Miss Severance looked at him,

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"In love?" she said. "At their age?" He laughed at her, and she added: "I don't mean they are not fond of each other, but Mr. Farron must be forty-five. What I mean by love-" she hesitated. "Don't stop."

But she did stop, for her quick ears told her that some one was coming, and, Pringle opening the door, Mrs. Farron

came in.

She was a very beautiful person. In her hat and veil, lit by the friendly light of her own drawing-room, she seemed so young as to be actually girlish, except that she was too stately and finished for such a word. Mathilde did not inherit her blondness from her mother. Mrs. Farron's hair was a dark brown, with a shade of red in it where it curved behind her ears. She had the white skin that often goes with such hair, and a high, delicate color in her cheeks. Her eyebrows were fine and excessively dark-penciled, many people thought.

"Mama, this is Mr. Wayne," said Mathilde. Here was another tremendous moment crowding upon her-the introduction of her beautiful mother to this new friend, but even more, the introduction to her mother of this wonderful new friend, whose flavor of romance and interest no one, she supposed, could miss. Yet Mrs. Farron seemed to be taking it all very calmly, greeting him, taking his chair as being a trifle more comfortable than the others, trying to cover the doubt in her own mind whether she ought to recognize him as an old acquaintance. Was he new or one of the ones she had seen a dozen times before?

There was nothing exactly artificial in Mrs. Farron's manner, but, like a great singer who has learned perfect enunciation even in the most trivial sentences of every-day matters, she, as a great beauty, had learned the perfection of self-presentation, which probably did not wholly desert her even in the dentist's chair.

She drew off her long, pale, spotless gloves.

"No tea, my dear," she said. "I've just had it," she added to Wayne,

"with an old aunt of mine. Aunt Alberta," she threw over her shoulder to Mathilde. "I am very unfortunate, Mr. Wayne; this town is full of my relatives, tucked away in forgotten oases, and I'm their only connection with the vulgar, modern world. My aunt's favorite excitement is disapproving of me. She was particularly trying to-day." Mrs. Farron seemed to debate whether or not it would be tiresome to go thoroughly into the problem of Aunt Alberta, and to decide that it would; for she said, with an abrupt change, "Were you at this party last night that Mathilde enjoyed so much?" "Yes, said Wayne. "Why were n't you?"

"I was n't asked. It is n't the fashion to ask mothers and daughters to the same parties any more. We dance so much better than they do." She leaned over, and rang the little enamel bell that dangled at the arm of her daughter's sofa. "You can't imagine, Mr. Wayne, how much better I dance than Mathilde."

"I hope it need n't be left to the imagination."

"Oh, I'm not sure. That was the subject of Aunt Alberta's talk this afternoon-my still dancing. She says she put on caps at thirty-five." Mrs. Farron ran her eyebrows whimsically together and looked up at her daughter's visitor.

Mathilde was immensely grateful to her mother for taking so much trouble to be charming; only now she rather spoiled it. by interrupting Wayne in the midst of sentences, as if she had never been as much interested as she had seemed. Pringle had appeared in answer to her ring, and she asked him sharply:

"Is Mr. Farron in?"

"Mr. Farron 's in his room, Madam." At this she appeared to give her attention wholly back to Wayne, but Mathilde knew that she was really busy composing an escape. She seemed to settle back, to encourage her visitor to talk indefinitely; but when the moment came for her to answer, she rose to her feet in the midst of her sentence, and, still talking, wandered to the door and disappeared.

As the door shut firmly behind her Wayne said, as if there had been no interruption:

"It was love you were speaking of, you. know."

"But don't you think my mother is marvelous?" she asked, not content to take up even the absorbing topic until this other matter had received due attention.

"I should say so! But one is n't, of course, overwhelmed to find that your mother is beautiful."

"And she 's so good!" Mathilde went on. "She's always thinking of things to do for me and my grandfather and Mr. Farron and all these old relatives. She went away just now only because she knows that as soon as Mr. Farron comes in he asks for her. She 's perfect to every one.".

He came and sat down beside her again. "It 's going to be much easier for her daughter," he said: "you have to be perfect only to one person. Now, what was it you were going to say about love?"

Again they looked at each other; again Miss Severance had the sensation of drowning, of being submerged in some strange elixir.

She was rescued by Pringle's opening the door and announcing:

"Mr. Lanley." Wayne stood up.

"I suppose I must go," he said.

"No, no," she returned a little wildly, and added, as if this were the reason why she opposed his departure: "This is my grandfather. You must see him."

Wayne sat down again, in the chair on the other side of the tea-table.


MATHILDE had been wrong in telling Wayne that her mother had gone upstairs in obedience to an impulse of kindness. She had gone to quiet a small, gnawing anxiety that had been with her all the day, a haunting, elusive, persistent impression that something was wrong between her and her husband.

All the day, as she had gone about from

one thing to another, her mind had been diligently seeking in some event of the outside world an explanation of a slight obscuration of his spirit; but her heart, more egotistical, had stoutly insisted that the cause must lie in her. Did he love her less? Was she losing her charm for him? Were five years the limit of a human relation like theirs? Was she to watch the dying down of his flame, and try to shelter and fan it back to life as she had seen so many other women do?

Or was the trouble only that she had done something to wound his aloof and sensitive spirit, seldom aloof to her? Their intimate life had never been a calm one. Farron's interests were concentrated, and his temperament was jealous. A woman could n't, as Adelaide sometimes had occasion to say to herself, keep men from making love to her; she did not always want to. Farron could be relentless, and she was not without a certain contemptuous obstinacy. Yet such conflicts as these she had learned not to dread, but sometimes deliberately to precipitate, for they ended always in a deeper sense of unity, and, on her part, in a fresh sense of his supremacy.

If he had been like most of the men she knew, she would have assumed that something had gone wrong in business. With her first husband she had always been able to read in his face as he entered the house the full history of his business day. Sometimes she had felt that there was something insulting in the promptness of her inquiry, "Has anything gone wrong, Joe?" But Severance had never appeared to feel the insult; only as time. went on, had grown more and more ready, as her interest became more and more lackadaisical, to pour out the troubles and, much more rarely, the joys of his day. One of the things she secretly admired. most about Farron was his independence of her in such matters. No half-contemptuous question would elicit confidence from him, so that she had come to think it a great honor if by any chance he did drop her a hint as to the mood that his day's work had occasioned. But for the

most part he was unaffected by such matters. Newspaper attacks and business successes did not seem to reach the area where he suffered or rejoiced. They were to be dealt with or ignored, but they could neither shadow or elate him.

So that not only egotism, but experience, bade her look to her own conduct for some explanation of the chilly little mist that had been between them for twenty-four hours.

As soon as the drawing-room door closed behind her she ran up-stairs like a girl. There was no light in his study, and she went on into his bedroom. He was lying on the sofa; he had taken off his coat, and his arms were clasped under his head; he was smoking a long cigar. To find him idle was unusual. His was not a contemplative nature; a trade journal or a detective novel were the customary solace of odd moments like this.

He did not move as she entered, but he turned his eyes slowly and seriously upon her. His eyes were black. He was a very dark man, with a smooth, brown skin and thick, fine hair, which clung closely to his broad, rather massive head. He was clean shaven, so that, as Adelaide loved to remember a friend of his had once suggested, his business competitors might take note of the stern lines of his mouth and chin.

She came in quickly, and shut the door behind her, and then dropping on her knees beside him, she laid her head against his heart. He put out his hand, touched her face, and said:

"Take off this veil."

The taking off of Adelaide's veil was not a process to be accomplished ill-advisedly or lightly. Lucie, her maid, had put it on, with much gathering together and looking into the glass over her mistress's shoulder, and it was held in place with shining pins and hair-pins. She lifted her head, sank back upon her heels, and raised her arms to the offending cobweb of black meshes, while her husband went on in a tone not absolutely denuded of reproach:

"You 've been in some time."

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