Fiction

For Catherine’s Sake

W. A. Fraser October 1 1917
Fiction

For Catherine’s Sake

W. A. Fraser October 1 1917

For Catherine’s Sake

Fiction

W. A. Fraser

Autor of “Moosiea,” “Thoroughbredsei&t; .

ON a lane that projects through the countryside from Broadway to Sixth Avenue there is a club, and across the lane from the club there is a theatre.

The night we are interested in it was raining little tigers. The play was over and the people had all gone except a well-dressed girl. At first she had waited for her escort, but for five minutes the doorkeeper had been.trying to secure a cab. He had just said. “Nothing doing.

Miss; it’s a wet night, ami the theatres just out”

— when a taxi skidded up to the entrance. aod—¡^white-gloved man’s hand die*!/ encouragingly from the open íe lady, under the protection of '•-keeper’s umbrella, pattered to tííxi and was swept inside by a strong arm. A voice called “Knickerbocker!” and the rubber tires squeegeed along the wet cement.

The girl shrank into a corner, nursing her resentment. From his guilty effacement in the other,corner the man said. “Sorry.” He put his strong hand over the. slim fingers that rested on the seat, and gave them an apologetic squeeze. The gloved hand was snatched from his clasp, and utilized to establish more obsrfhringly the feather boa and wrap ^put his companion’s face. Inwardly ^le man chuckled; the warm supper room, the soft glow of lights, music, a sip of wine— under these benign conditions his tardiness "-¡glit be forgiven.

At the Knickerbocker tl\e lady, a step in advance, still held herself aloof in the slender jungle of her feather boa. And so down the winding steps that led to the supper room. At the bottom she turned her face for an instant, only half stifling the cry that rose to her lips— she did not know the man ! The bewilderment in his eyes indicated that he was in the same fix.

INSTINCTIVELY* a woman appraises a man the instant she is thrown, what we might call deeply, into his presence, no matter how distracting the circumstances may be; and if the man had been common, or, even if the woman had not been beautiful, the incident would have terminated with a few explanations. “There’s been a delicious mix-up,” he

“They are men to be trusted by wbmen, especially in an adventure. And the adventure to-night came about in this! way. I reached New York to-day, and tailed up a young lady who is in the company at that theatre.” The expressive] face across the table had certainly stiffened, and Gray added hastily: “I’m her guardian—and not married.” He washed closely the blue-gray eyes across] the table, fancying he detected a look of pleasure. “So I called up my ward and told her that I had a busy evening] but would pick her up after the play] for supper here—don’t you see?”

“That’s too bad!” she suggested, |tentatively.

“For my little ward perhaps,” he] declared. “I was kept later than I thought over the meeting, and no doubt I she thought I had forgotten her.”

THE waiter now had certain placlngs of wine glasses and table bric-a-nrac to attend to, and the lady synchrornzed the sentiment^ the man across the way had stirred. Everything about him.lhis smooth frictionless way of arranging matters, his quiet, evenly-modulated voice, his brown, capable hands, his eyes, suggested strength. There was no doubt about his delicacy, too. How carefully he had avoided the very semblance I of drawing her in to haying to explain anything; even to give her rfame; his method implied that she was all right, but that he had to be explained into good standing.

Aided by furtive glances between the waiter’s crooked arms Gray was limni ig in the finer touches of his companion’s caste. Madison Avenue, he opined. But what kind of a creature must the m in have been—and yet, by Jove! he had be *n

said, “but I think we’d better see it through.” The voice made the request compelling; it was as honest as a goodtoned bell. “I’ll wait for you,” he added, as the lady hesitated ; then she turned and went to thei cloak room.

The man stepped to the door of the crowded Supper room, and touched the head waiter on the arm, saying, “Jacques.”

“Ah. Mr. Gray,” and the waiter’s fart lighted.

Very unobtrusively a magnetic “tenspot” insinuated itself into the waiter’s palm, and Gray was saying: “Did you keep that little table in the corner for me, Jacques?”

G RAY. observed with delight that the lady chose the seat with her back to the room.

“Jacques, something very nice—just your very nicest”

The head waiter held the wine card and raised his eyebrows interrogatively. Gray nodded. “Very good, sir, I think you’ll rind everything very pleasant.”

“Now,” Gray said, addressing his companion, “It’s up to me to tell all I know. I think that will clear the air, and there’ll be nothing left but to just enjoy ourselves.”

His eyes asked»for approval, and the

ladv said, “That’s very nice, Mr.-”

“Mr. Gray. I like frankness.”

“My name is Philip Gray. I spend a great deal of my time in the West—mines and things.” A whimsical smile twisted the corners of his eyes; “You know the mining engineer of our magazines?”

She nodded an affirmative.

practically the same kind of an offender.

The oysters, emblem of silence, seemed to have created an hiatus of speech. Somewhat to break thiá Gray said casually; “There’s a friend of mine at the door— evidently looking for somebody. Brilliant chap; author, playwright. Perhaps you know of him,—Jack Braund?”

It was fortunate that Gray’s eyes were still watching the twistings of his friend Braund as the latter peered about the room, for the lady’s face went, white. When he turned to her she was taking her first sip of wine. Her eyes were full of beseechment as she said, “Please don’t

“He won’t see me in this corner,” Gray interrupted; “besides, Braund is one of the shyest creatures on earth. There! He’s gone now; evidently his people ara. not here.”

“You know him very well, then?”

“My best friend in Ñew York.” “Perhaps your friend also was late over some appointment with a ward at one of the theatres.”

Gray laughed. “Might be looking for his fiancée.” .

“Oh, he’s engaged,” the lady said in an expressionless voice.

“Yes. I hope the girl is the right kind, for Jack is temperamental,—is easily led.” “Then you don’t know her?”

“Not even her name—I’ve been awav, you see.”

f I ' HE little waiter, almost hidden unA der his large tray appeared, followed by Jacques, who. taking the lid from The pièce de resistance, replaced it, and turned a face beaming with satisfaction upon Gr^y.

“Look all right, Jacques?” the latter queried.

“Exquisite. Our chef excels in his treatment of ortolans.”

As the little waiter placed the birds. Jacques talked. “When I send word to the chef that it is my suggestion, then he knows it is a desirable guest to please.” Now the birds were served, and Jacquês grazed upon their brown forms in adoration.

“The art is in: the cooking, of course,” Gray suggested.

“For the ordinary palate,” Jacques resumed, “they may be wrapped in thin slices of bacon, but these, you will observe, have been roasted in vine leaves, which does not destroy the exquisite flavor that an artist would enjoy. Ah, Mr. Gray, cooking is a gréât art. I have Oscar’s treatise on this matter, and I lie for hours reading it. It is a great book.” He lowered his head, and speaking low, added : “Our chef is a great man, but Oscar 43 a poet.”

Then Jacques darted away, called by an uplifted hand. His chatter had' temporarily relieved the somewhat strained atmosphere. That it was so was a tribute to the lady’s class. There was undoubtedly a mutual - liking, even a spontaneous trusting. The evidence of this came more from her eyes.

Up to the very moment of, say, the oysters’ arrival, everything had been embarrasing. She had plumped into a stranger’s taxi; in the car he had squeezed her hand—the remembrance of this must still linger in the lady’s mind; then had come the paralyzing discovery that they were utter strangers. Considering all this it was little; wonder that they did

not feel perfectly at ease. He felt it was not rude for him to suggest that they might go whenever she felt inclinedA charm that Gray found was that she understood—appreciated every turn of his consideration.

HER eyes lighted. “That's very good of you. Mr. Gray. They will he anxious at home for — for—somebody will telephone.’’

In a very few minutes the check had been paid. and. as they waited for a taxi he said: “Please let me drop you home— even if the rain has ceased.”

A troubled look swept across her Táce, but she preceded him to the taxi. “Tell the chauffeur to stop at the corner of Fiftieth Street and Madison Avenue,” she said. When they had started she added, “They will be looking for me at home, and I’d rather walk the last few steps.”

“Now,” he answered. “I’m going to leave it entirely to you. Here is my card with my address. Here is another card, a fearful business-looking affair, and this is what you are to do. I want you to enquire about me—mind. I say I leant you to, then, if you will, I want you to let me know at my address when and where I can see you again. Am I not tremendously prosaic and wooden?”

“I’d call it chivalrous.” the girl answered, putting his card in her card case. “There’s been so much to-night.” she continued, “that’s been—well startling—” “Not unpleasant?” he interjected. “No-o-o; only the standing in the rain.” The taxi had stopped. As Gray held the lady’s fingers for an instant, his eye3 rested on the face wistfully. What if he’d never see it again. She was saying, “Good-bv, and thank you so much; you’ve been so nice.” Then she was gone, walking down the cross street.

GRAY gave the driver his address, stepped into the taxi, and the wheels sputtered in their whirling start. Next instant his hand touched a silver card case on the seat.

“Stop!” he called. When the taxi skidded to the curb he sprang out saying, “W^ait!” and on a little run hurried back toward the corner. As he turned it he heard a scream, and saw a woman struggling with a man.

Thrusting the card case in his pocket Gray sprang forward, and before the tough was aware of rescue, the fingers of a strong hand had grabbed the collar of his coat, and he was shot parabolically backward, landing in a crumpled heap on the flags.

“Are you hurt—did he get anything?” Gray asked, still clutching the man.

“No—o—o, I’m all right.”

Gray yanked the half-starved creature to his feet, and said, “Beat it. before I . knock your head off!” One invitation was enough, and as the tramp sruttled away he muttered In awe, “Some man. Bo; some man!"

“I’m glad you didn’t strike that creature,” the girl said, and her voice was trembling with excitement.

“What good would it do. He deserved it, but a beating would not have reformed him—it never does; it would only make him more vicious next time he got a woman in his power. Now I’ve simply got to see you home.” he added; “this street is so dark.”

“I live on the Avenue,” she said naively.

He laughed.

“Yes. 1 was punished for my deceit." At the corner he asked: “Is it d&t; wn, or in this block?”

"A few doors down,” she answer** 1 "Then I’ll wait here so I can see if you have any more adventures.”

She held out her hand. “You are the most considerate man I ever met."

He watched till she had disappeared up a flight of brown-stone steps, then, as he was whirled homeward, he puf his hand in his pocket and found the card case which he had forgotten to deliver.

A S the girl reached the upper hall a door opened, and her sister beckoned. "Where have you been. Catherine”” she asked when she had closed the door.

“Has Jack phoned. Fronda?” the girl parried.

“Yes: and I. like a silly, said you weren’t home, not knowing, until he explained what had happened.”

“I don’t care.” Catherine answered. “What was Jack’s excuse for missing me?”

“Sit down while I tell you: you look tired.”

“I am."

“He said that he went across to the dub at the last act to see a manager about his new play. Was that true. Catherine?”

“Yes, he was to meet me in the foyer as we came out.”

“Well, he got so deeply into matters with—”

“Wine!” Catherine declared scornfully. “That he forgot the time-—missed you bv a minute. Where did you go?”

“To the Knickerbocker for supper " “With the Lansings; they tvere going to-night?”

“With Philip Gray.”

“Philip Gray?” Fronda puzzled: “I never heard of him before.”

“Neither did I—before to-night.” Fronda put her hands on the other’s shoulders. “Catherine Laird! Are you going out of your mind? Went with a stranger to the Knickerbocker for supper?” She drew a hassock up beside her sister. “Nov.* begin at the beginning and tell me all about it.”

Obediently Catherine began at the end, perhaps because it loomed so important, and told about the rescue first.

“Very much of a man after all, I should say, Catherine. Did you find out who he is—where he lives?”

“I’ve got his card; hand me my bag,

■ F ronda.” *

When she opened the hand bag she gave a cry. “That tramp! He got my card

case !’’**

“You mean he got mine; yours is on the bureau; you took mine by mistake.” “But I’ve lost Mr. Gray’s card!" This seemed the great grievance.

“Oh. he’ll call you up; don’t cry.”

“No he doesn’t know my name. And he won’t till I communicate with him.” “Didn’t you give him any name—-how «lid you gçt on?"

"No; he’s just beautiful in his consideration; he simply said ‘Lady’ when he addressed me.”

‘“I can’t follow you, Cathie. Tell me about the man, he sounds interesting."

FTKR a little, as Catherine talked, Fronda exclaimed, “Do you know ■what I think? That it’s a very good

thing you lost that card. I chip in my vanished card case with a good grace.” At that instant the little bell on the phone tinkled. “That’s Jack again.” Fronda exclaimed, rising.

“Well, you tell Mr. Jack Braund to keep away; I never want to see him again.”

The little wires called into Fronda’s ear. “I want to speak to Miss Fronda Laird.”

“Very well. I’m here,” the girl answered.

"This is Philip Gray, and I recognize your voice.”

“You do? That’s—”

But the man’s voice interrupted. “I found your card case in the taxi. May I deliver it at your home to-morrow?” “Oh, no, don’t come—”

”No, don’t let Jack come!” Catherine commanded.

“Then will you meet me to-morrow so I can deliver it? You see our pact is destroyed because my card is in the case.” “I cart’t.”

“ Please,” the phone pleaded. “Meet me at the Knickerbocker at lunch. I’ll wait for you at the entrance at one.”

“riLsee.” And Fronda hurriedly hung up the receiver, for Catherine was coming toward the phone.

“I was getting afraid that you would let him come,” Catherine said. "Jack Braund will learn how to treat a girl next time he—” Catherine, becoming involved. did not explain further.

"Go to bed. Cathie.” Fronda advised;

“as vou undress, tell me about the new man.”

FRONDA developed an extraordinary curiosity; Gray’s mustache, the color )f his .eyes, his features—adroitly Catherine-was led on to picture the man.

“I like he way you’ve got your hair dono to-night. Cathie,” F ; onda said; “let me try it.” And out of the abundance of her tresses she quickly twisted up a replica of her sister’s crown of glory. She put her arm around Catherine’s waist, and drawing her in front of the large mirror, exclaimed, “How is that?” She viewed the reflected faces critically. “Are we as much alike as people say?”

“Well, we are called the near-twins; but you are much prettier, Fronda; better color.”

As she kissed her sister good-night F ronda said: “I don’t blame you; Phil seems a good sort. But you really love Jack, don’t you, Catherine?”

“Yes, I did.”

“And will again in a day or two. I’m glad that card case lost itself.”

For an hour Fronda lay wide awake puzzling out the thing that had popped into her mind like an inspiration when Gray had said through the telephone. "I recognize your voice.” She knew that Jack Braund was passionately in love with her sister, that he was a splendid fellow; perhaps lacking just the manstrength that Philip Gray seemed to pos-

With tVip ('anl casp in his nnsspssion

almost any happening might throw Catherine and Gray together again! The thing to do was to get that card case; also keep Gray from calling up, or coming to the house. She felt sure that, not leven knowing there were two, so to speak, Fronda Lairds, he would take her on trust as his companion of the evening bejfore. Shp laughed herself to sleep imagining divers complications that might an

Next daj>" Fronda advised Catherine to vest; said she was -going shopping and wouldn’t be home for lunch. “live phoned Jack,”-she said, “and made him promise to not call up for a couple of daps. That’s the best way.”

“The only way,” Catherine “Will you do my hair in the kharming way you had yours last night,!’ Fronda pleaded. Then she borrowed a [platinum necklace to which "lung threé pearls; Fionda had noticed her sister Had worn this the night before. She would have given something to have borrowed the diamond engagement ring fromj Catherine’s third finger.

AT one o’clock Miss Fronda [alighted from a taxi, very deliberately paid her fare, her demure eyes cautiously searching the^landscape for a figure resembling Cafhefcne’s description of Philip Gray. As she w'alked, also deliberately, toward the entrance, a man stepped forward, and, raising his hat said. Interrogativi’

As thp girl's eves met his he adtied :

am Philip Giray. Do you recognize-me— evening dress is so disguising?”

“Oh, yes,” Fronda answered.

“It was so good of you to come,” he said.

And so their drifted in.

At the tab e Gray said: “You really— how’ can I s. ly it without appearing—I mean, that th e crisp air to-day has given you more colo r. To say something actually stupid—”

Fronda, soiling, interrupted him, “Don’t say it hen. I was tired last night and—and woiried.”

There was a marked improvement. Gray thought; more vivacity, less shrinking. Of course the girl knew him better now; besides sunlight giv.es courage. There was th; same restful composure ^though; the same delightful simplicity of rich-textured j arment. He looked at her left hand; he Tad been wondering if the diamond ring on the third finger the night before h id meant an engagement. ,It did not, for it was absent now; left at home probably is a sacrifice to refinementEvery little new development increased Gray’s interest

Covertly assa ying the man Fronda decided that he w as all Catherine -had pictured him.

“Here is the card .case, before I forget it again,” G ray said presently. “My cards are in it. Don’t forget to find out if I am worthy of knowing you more intimately, for I Want to. A little later he said, “Don’t think that I want to pry into—well, into anything.” He smiled like a boy who Fad upset something, and Fronda laughed ¡too; he certainly was like ^a solemn grown-jup boy.

She encouraged him, for he seemed to have given up the idea; “What did you want to know, Mr. Gray?”

Even at that h s courage almost failed, but the absence of the ring—that was something. “Well,’.' he began, with an effort, “I feel that I am going to be tremendously interested in you, if possible, but I want to pjay the game. I don’t want to take advantage of a lucky accident.” I *

Behind the apparently puzzled eyes the girl knew what Gray was driving at; but he, thinking that she did not comprehend, floundered op. “You seemed so upset last night, anjd then you waited so patiently—”

“In the rain,” F onda suggested.

Gray nodded: “Yes, in the rain. Are you—was it a—young man to whom you are—are bound in i ny way? I mean, you see, who would evei expect you were going to marry him? ’ It was out at last.

Fronda laughed i not satirically but joyously. “Neitheij young man nor old man,” she answereq.

“I hadn’t thoughtjof an old man,” Gray admitted, with a smile; “I even forget, at times, that I’m bid myself.”

“You old? Why you’re just a great—” Fronda stopped, a flush sweeping to her cheeks at her temeri ty.

“Boy,”-he completad. “I’m really afraid I never will grow up.”

“Don’t,” she advised.

SO they, went on getting acquainte parted Gray had dr; Fronda to go for day. In three days limes, in point of pr&t; a hundred; and Ca of it.

ough)the lunch, just And before they iwn a promise from auto spin the next they had met three •gress they had met lerine knew nothing

Then on the morning of the fourth day the collar button rolled under the bureau.

Jack Bra"ünd, still denied the companionship of Catherine, who had really gofie to pieces over the episode of the tramp, went to his friend. Philip Gray, seeking companionship. “I’ve come to ask you to dine with me to-night, old chap.”

“All right, my dear boy,” Gray answered. He looked sharply into Braund’s face“You look tucked up, Jack. Y\ orkj? What’s the matter?”

Braund took a turn to the window, theh he crossed back and flung himself j into p chair.

“Oh, I see,” Gray commented, “a womap eh? What’s happened?”

“Had a row—no, not a row; that wp might have settled. I behaved like a fool, _ and she won’t see me.”

“Well, Jack, it’s only a question of whoj can stand it the longer. Don’t worry.” Gray lighted a cigar, and some little! devil riding astride the smoke prompted him to ask: “What silly thing did you doj —I suppose it’s the girl vou’re engaged! to?" I

“Last Monday night I let her stand in the rain in front of the Bdasco Theatre after everybody had gone away, while I talked play-writing, and drank wine across the way in the club.”

At the gasping noise from Gray Braund raised his eyes from the floor, saying: “What’s wrong, Phil?”

Gray dropped the cigar in an ’ash trr.y, saying: “Smoking—Doctor told me to quit it.”

“You see,” Braund added, “Khrone asked me to step across during the last act to talk about a play. I excused myself to Miss Laird, and forgot the passing of time.”

A cold perspiration broke on Gray’s forehead. “And—and, what happened?” His lips were dry, the query was barely audible.

“When I turned up she had gone; the door-keeper told me she had driven ;off in a taxi With another man; he thought they had gone to the Knickerbocker. When I managed to get her on the phone— which was yesterday afternoon for the first time, she said she had been taken home by a friend, but that she hadn’t seen him since.”

“And you are very much in love with the girl, are you, Jack?”

“I feel that I am going crazy; I can’t stand it. Phil, you have been an avoider of women, you can’t understand it. A man of my temperament gives his very soul into the possession of the woman he loves.”

“I think I understand,” Gray said, putting his hand on the other’s shoulder; “and I’m sure that it will come all right.” “Don’t you see, Phil, why I wanted you to dine with me to-night? Just that touch of your hand on my shoulder is what I need—strength.”

“I’ll be with you, Jack.”

“Meet me at the Club at six-thirty, and we’ll go somewhere to eat.”

“And it will be our last dinner together for some time, old boy; to-morrow I’m going West.”

“Going West? Thought you urere going to stay in New York for a month?” “Changed my mind; business; must go.”

After Braund had gone Gray lighted another cigar. “Even had to lie about that grunt of surprise,” he confided to the cigar.

He sat for ten minutes, mentally wording the shattering thing. First and foremost he was a damned sneak, a claim jumper—yes, that was the word; Fronda was Jack’s claim, rich beyond count in desirability; and he. Jack’s friend—God!' That he didn’t know about it didn’t change the results any. There was something horrible in the, knowledge that Fronda had lied to Jack about seeing the man again; somehow that, too, seemed his fault. And she had lied to him about being engaged, told this straight lie with smiling lips, and eyes guileless. And she had prepared to deceive him. for she had taken the engagement ring off her finger — there was no doubt about that.

Then he softened about Fronda': not that there was any argument in her favor —he cbuldn’t think of one. Perhaps she had, like himself, been swept into a sudden infatuation. Gray laughed bitterly. His first effort in love, and he had made a despicable mess of it.

HE got paper and-pen and wrote halfa-dozen notes to “Miss Laird,” five going into the waste basket. Recrimination had trickled through the five in a gradually attenuating stream, until in the sixth there was none of it. Just that Jack Braund, his friend, had told him that his soul w’as in Fronda’s keep: that personally he could understand this, three »lays of her presence had taught him how possible this might be; that he couldn’t keep the engagement made with her for that afternoon ; that he would never see her again; that he was leaving next day for the west. The Tetter went by a messen -ger, addressed to “Miss Fronda Laird.” It was twelve o’clock when it was put in ‘ Fronda’s hands. Now a hèart-brokenTetter ordinarily should have brought tears from the recipient: but what Catherine heard was a peal of joyous laughter, and the next instant Fronda’s arms were about her, and Fronda’s lips were on her ¡cheek.

Catherine pushed the excited girl away* ¡saving: “Now tell me.”

Fronda thrust the letter into her sister’s hand, the latter read it w»th puzzled eyes. “What’s it all about?” she cried perplexedly; “Is the mart crazy? I have tio engagement with him; he hasn’t even taken the trouble to find out if I*rn alive.” A light radiated her mind. “Fronda! you haven’t—haven’t—?”

“Yes,” Fronda nodded, “I have. Isn’t it great?”

“You’ve made a fine mess of it! What. . did you do it for?”

“To save you. You’d have fallen in love with that man—any woman would.” “Have you?”

“Rather.”

“But now?”

“Well, that shows he’s in love with me.” “I don’t understand it. How will it work out? He thinks you are me.”

“No. he thinks you are me.”

Catherine waved her hands in perplexity. “What are you going to do about it. Fronda?”

“You’ve got to make it up with Jack, Cathie.”

“Just to get you out of this hole, eh?” “I’ll get Jack on the phone now and tell him,” Fronda declared.

It was Braund who answered.

“This is Fronda, Jack; and Catherine has forgiven you.” There was a squeak Continued on page 69

Continued from page 24.

of joy over the wire, ä gurgle. Fronda ' swung her voice toward Catherine, “I hope I haven’t killed him.”

“No, you can’t come up to the house.” (This in answer to Braund’s eager query). Then, “You must give Catherine and me a dinner to-night.”

“Oh, Lord! I can’t,” Braund cried dismally, “I’m engaged to dine with a friend.”

“Put him off.”

“I can’t; he’s leaving for the West tomorrow.”

Fronda pricked her ears; “Who is it, ; Jack—any one we know?”

“No; Phil Gray; you don’t know him.” “Why not bring him? Then we shall know him.”

“He wouldn’t come; he’s gun-shy of women; he’d take ta the woods.”

“Jack, listen! Phone down to the Waldorf and engage a corner table in the Palm Room. We’ll wait for you and your friend in that little Moorish Room at the Thirty-third Street side.”

“He wouldn’t come,” wailed Braund. “Don’t tell him. Bring him along to dine with you. Well, Jack, that’s the ultimatum. I’ve got Catherine to forgive you, but those are conditions.”

“I’ll do it, Fronda.”

“Jack, promise faithfully that you won’t mention our names.”

“I promise anything.”

“Good-bye! Seven o’clock then.”

AT seven o’clock that evening Braund ■ and Gray swung into the Waldorf from the thirty-fourth side. As they passed the cuckoo clock on the way to the Moorish Room the little wooden bird stuck his head out of the top and jeered at Gray. And something agitated Braund to soften the effect of a sudden surprise bv saying, as they reached the news stand, “I’d better warn .you, old man; we’ve made it up. And I couldn’t get out of it—my girl is waiting inside to dine writh us.”

Gray felt his blood run cold; he clutched Braund by the arm, gasping: “Does she know I’m dining with you?”

“Of course, old man. I was afraid to tell you for fear you’d run away.”

Like a dead man Gray resigned himself to Jack’s, “Come on, Phil; they’re waiting.”

Just inside the door of the Moorish Room' they met Frorida. “This is my friend Mr. Gray, Fronda, Miss Fronda Laird.”

Gray’s eyes schooled to a polite look saw a cheerful smile on the girl’s.deceitful lips.

At that instant Catherine came forward into the light. Dpnly Gray heard his name mentioned, arid the girl’s; and then Braund’s voice saying cheerily; “This is the girl, Phil! You’re going to be my best man.”

For a second Gray’s eyes failed to register any sensation; he was mentally paralyzed ; the next second a glimmer of the truth filmed itself.

At the table Fronda, turning to Gray, said: “Jack says you are leaving for the West to-morrow. Are you really going?” Gray looked in her eyes; then he answered, “I’ve changed my mind.”