ILL NAME A DOG
Cummings had spent his way out of two good jobs and didn’t know where to look for another. Then he met the incomparable Ann and turned his talent for tasteful extravagance to a useful purpose.
'I’LL see to it,” Rodgers said grimly, “I’ll I see to it, that they’ll all know about you. And you won’t get another job in a hurry.” Paul Cummings smiled, bowed ironically, and gently closed the office door behind him But the smile wore off when he got out— into the street. The glaze of indifference which he had worn so successfully during
the interview became thin; worry showed through. Not so funny, he thought, as he paused on the curb to allow a surge of traffic to flow past, not so funny at all. Rodgers was a man of his word. Extravagance, Rodgers had shouted at him, was the curse of the country, and he was an unparalleled example of it. He would ruin any company with which he was connected. In short, he was a plague-spot to be avoided by every manufacturer. It rankled. Paul knew if Rodgers hadn’t been as blind as a bat, as obstinate as a mule, he would have seen that what Paul had been doing wasn’t extravagance at all. In a few more months he could have shown him profits brought about by his improvements. But with Rodgers it was always save, save, save. He couldn’t get it through his thick head that you’d got to spend money to make money.
Talk could kill; a reputation clung like a bur. Paul Cummings had built up a considerable one even outside of business. People said he was extravagant; he called it the technique of spending.
He regarded spending as an art; there was perfection in the way he could order a dinner or arrange an evening’s entertainment for his friends. If Paul Cummings were host, there would be something to mark that evening as a special event. It would be referred to afterward, held up as a model. He made other men, with lavish ways, appear merely vulgar and ill-bred. They hadn’t the instinct.
When he sent flowers, he did not indulge in quantity; his methods were more subtle. You might be sure if all the other girls were wearing violets, the girl to whom Paul Cummings had sent flowers would have something which
would distinguish hers. Perhaps it would be a simple matter of the ribbons with which they were tied, but, whatever it might be, the other girls would immediately recognize the donor: “Paul Cummings sent you those,” they would cry knowingly.
No one appreciated Paul more than his sister, Judy. That she could never get her husband Graham to agree with her had always been a sore point with her. For, to her, Paul was a delight; a continual joy. While other people worried about money; hoarded, saved, and spoke of their wretched little economies, Paul remained gorgeously aloof from all that kind of thing. Yet he never boasted; never bragged about money; never appeared in difficulties, or, if he were, she never heard of them. She could never understand how Graham was so blind as not to see what a thoroughly delightful person Paul was.
“But Graham darling,” she would exclaim, her light blue eyes full of reproach at some recent condemnation from Graham of Paul’s follies, “he does know how to spend. You’ll have to admit it. I’ve nêver known anyone who had the same art as Paul.”
That always sufficed to start Graham off. Spending as an art struck him as preposterous. Arrant nonsense, that was ail it was. All that Graham could ever see had come of Paul’s spending, was that he had been dismissed from one company for being too extravagant in his department, and now was on his road to a second dismissal. And if that happened, Graham had clearly indicated to Judy, he wouldn’t give a helping hand to get Paul another position.
Paul was only too well aware of Graham’s opinions.
His brother-in-law had never taken any particular trouble to hide them. Now, as Paul walked up the broad avenue in the direction of Graham’s solid gray stone house, a slight quirk, that was only half amusement, twisted his mouth. Graham, he fancied, would be rather more pleased than otherwise to hear that his prognostications were correct. Paul and Judy, being orphans,
Graham had always adopted towards Paul a semiparental attitude which gave him scope at times like these.
Judy, tucked up in a corner of a Chesterfield, in her very modern scarlet and gold sitting room, was overjoyed to see Paul walk in.
“Darling—how nice. I was on the point of ordering tea. However did you get off so early?”
“Quite easily,” Paul said, sinking down into one of Judy’s particularly soft chairs, “in fact, too easily,” and he smiled cheerfully. No use showing Judy he was worried.
But distress showed on Judy’s pretty pert face. “You’re not—Paul—you’re not—•”
Paul nodded. “Yes, I’m fired all right. Rodgers calculates he’ll save his plant from ruin. He’s been giving me an extemporized sketch of my character. It was illuminating in spots.”
Judy crinkled her brows as she gazed reflectively at his exceedingly good looking face. His features had such a finished look; nothing mislaid; nothing tucked on as an after-thought. She liked his mouth, so sharply modelled; his long angular body; his strong narrow hands. His casual indifference did not deceive her.
“I’m afraid, darling,” she said cautiously, feeling for her words, “that you may have to draw in your horns a bit. As Graham would say, ‘curb your extravagances.’ It’s a shame, of course. But the world is made up of amateurs. They can’t appreciate your fine technique.”
He leaned his head against the back of his chair, still smiling.
“I guess you’re right, Judy,” he said, in the cheerful, casual tone that he had especially adopted for the occasion. “I seem to have done for myself this time. After all, perhaps I’ve made a mistake, and instead of being the unusually brilliant person I thought I was, I am just a plain damn fool ”
“Never a fool, darling,” protested Judy. “And if you are the least little bit extravagant—”
“I’m not, you know. That’s about the last thing I’d call myself. And that’s why it’s so funny—”
Judy considered that for a moment. She couldn’t quite agree with him but if Paul said so, he should know. We usually know our own faults better than anyone else knows them. ‘What are you going to do about it?” she asked.
Paul shrugged “Don’t know. There’s not much to be done just now—middle of the summer—no one taking on new men Besides—with Rodgers talking—”
“Come up to Rock’s Point with me. I’m dying to go. Graham can’t get away. You’re tired. You’ve been overworking on those plans for that abominable old Rodgers.” “That doesn’t sound bad, at all. Yes, I’m tired. I’ve been working at nights, straight along. But what’s Graham going to say?”
Judy tossed that aside lightly. “Oh, he’ll say it anyway. It will please him all the better if you give him scope.”
PAUL was awakened the first morning at Rock’s Point, by the silver shine of the sea through the shutters; the shout of the surf and the kiu-kiu of the gulls clamoring above the rocks. The salty smell coming in at the windows, gave him a feeling of exhilaration that over-laid his persistent sensation of fret and worry.
He dressed quickly. From the end window of his room he could see the golf links sloping to the horizon, and the green arc of a hill with fluffy white cloud balancing upon it. Even at this hour, a few figures were dotted about here and there. He was anxious to be out with them; glad he had come.
Judy as hostess was complete, he thought, as he finished an appetizing breakfast, in the low sunny breakfast room overlooking the sea. The honey-dew melon was chilled to perfection; the pop-overs crisp and brown. He drank his coffee with a feeling of well-being which he knew was all out of proportion to his present circumstances.
He was thankful that Judy had persuaded him to come, no sense, that he could see, moping in town worrying over his problem like a dog over a bone. Yet that was what Graham had clearly shown he would have him do; what Rodgers would suppose him to be doing Up here spending the few hundreds he had in the bank was the last thing they would have conjectured a man in his position would be doing. He supposed they were right; anyone would say so.
He was probably all they said he was, he thought, rising from the table, perfectly cheerful about it. Everyone, thank Heaven, couldn’t be cut out from the same model; the pattern would wear out in time.
Returning to the club house that morning, after playing a round by himself, he ran into Randolph Harrison, whom he knew slightly and had always considered a bore.
“Hello,” Harrison exclaimed in surprise, “what are you doing up here?
Paul assented. He remembered Harrison’s queries were always obvious.
It was his form of conversation. Paul had to listen to an elaborate explanation as to why Harrison was taking his vacation at this particular time. “You see the Perrys are up here.”
Paul felt bound to inquire who were the Perrys, having no particular interest in the reply. Harrison was amazed. It appeared that everyone should know Ann Perry. Not to have heard of her was distinctly a social lapse. After all, Paul explained, you could scarcely know everyone in a city of millions, even though you had a wide circle of friends. Harrison obligingly offered to introduce Paul on the spot. Ann Perry was at the far end of the veranda with a group of girls. And Paul followed Harrison unwillingly; he didn’t care about being led up like a pet lamb to one of Harrison’s friends.
“Ann,” called Harrison as he neared the group, “Ann, here’s someone who’s never heard of you. I want to introduce you.”
An extremely slender girl, in white, turned an inquiring look upon Paul and immediately the other girls in the group became a pleasantly colorful background. She stood out from the rest as though the spotlight had been turned full upon her, leaving the others in shadow.
Paul concluded, as he looked at her, that she was that sort of person. She made other people fade out. Because she was a shade more poised, a degree more slender, her
features more perfectly modelled, her sureness more sure.
She had a very young mouth and eyes of a deep sea blueness; sleepy eyes, with drooping lids that had a startling fashion of lifting swiftly, making her appear intensely awake all of a sudden. This fascinated Paul. It made him feel curiously excited, as though some perfectly delightful thing were just about to happen.
“It’s surprising you’ve never met,” insisted Harrison after murmuring their names.
“Why are you so surprised, Randolph?” Her voice rang out like a clear sounding bell. “Is Mr. Cummings one of those terrible people with a reputation, whom you really should know?” Languidly her deep blue eyes rested upon Paul. “Yet I’ve managed quite nicely so far.”
Hopelessly conceited, condemned Paul, annoyed with himself because he was held by her charm. These young things were too sure of themselves, altogether. But he had never come across any one of them as poised and selfassured as this Ann Perry, yet she carried it to such a
height of perfection that it pleased as well as amused him.
So much so, that he couldn’t get her out of his mind; wondered if he were actually one of those precious lunatics who fell in love at sight; assured himself he was not, and then drove fifteen miles in Judy’s car that same afternoon to buy orchids for Ann Perry to wear at the hotel dance.
He was more than gratified, strolling over after dinner, to find that she was wearing them. She smiled to him from across the room and her smile was friendly, almost intimate.
“Wherever did you get them?” she asked as Paul came up to her, “no one wears orchids up here!”
“You didn’t really suppose I’d send them if everyone were wearing them, did you?”
She tilted her young head, giving him a long inquiring
look: “You know you rather interest me,” she remarked, much as though she were alluding to some specimen in a museum. Coolness surrounded her as an aura. He wondered if she ever had been touched by any emotion whatever. He couldn’t imagine her condescending to be stirred by anything, and he regarded her with a flicker of amusement as she drooped against the wall, her mauve taffeta skirts flaring just below her knees. She appeared to be only half awake, but occasionally her mouth danced into smiles.
“And, as a rule, men don’t?” he ventured.
“No,” her voice was languid. “I’m rather off men at present. You see, I was engaged and it became such a bore. Of course I can’t help them hanging around,” and her eyes roved past him, surveying the vista of the long room. “There’s Randolph,” she announced, “I believe he’s looking for me. He usually is.”
“He’s one of the men who hang around, then?”
“He does, a bit. He’s one of those I’m-going-far young men. He talks a lot about success with a capital ‘S. I don’t know that I find it dreadfully entertaining. Still, as men go . . .” her voice trailed off. Randolph was walking briskly in their direction.
“Remember,” said Paul quickly, “you’re engaged for the evening. I don’t want him bothering.”
A dimple appeared surprisingly in one cheek. Randolph stationed himself directly in front of her, his eyes falling on the orchids.
“Wearing orchids, eh?” he remarked. “Did you get the sweet peas I sent you?”
“Yes, thanks so much. They’re in a glass in my room.
Randolph flushed with annoyance and eyed Paul coldly. “Well, this is our dance, isn’t it?” he said crisply.
“Sorry,” Ann drawled, “I’m not dancing.”
“Oh, don’t,” her tone was an entreaty; “I hate remembering everything I say. I always try not to.”
Randolph hesitated, glared at Paul, then turned jerkily away. How did men put up with with such treatment, Paul wondered, watching the retreating figure with a certain amount of sympathy. He was quite sure that he wouldn’t stand for it for a moment. She was abominably spoilt. These young things thought they owned the earth.
“Now I do hope you’re not going to be disappointing,” Ann murmured, lifting her eyes to look at Paul, “oh, I do hope not.”
Paul hoped so, too, promptly making up his mind not to disappoint her. The next morning he ran into Randolph on the links. “I hear you’ve lost your job,” Randolph remarked in gratified tones, apparently blaming Paul for the incident of the night before. “Odd time to be buying orchids.”
Paul smiled amiably.
“I’ve always heard you were a spender,” Randolph went on with what Paul considered amazing impudence, “you’ve got a reputation tor it all right. But I should have thought when you hadn’t a job—” “Since we’re talking about flowers,” interrupted Paul, “I prefer mine not to be left in a tumbler upstairs. Perhaps that’s why I send orchids.”
Paul found himself extremely busy trying not to disappoint Ann. He arranged little dinners which were what little dinners should be, and seldom are; got up picnicsa-deux which gave him endless scope; ordered flowers with his peerless gift for it; and, for the time being forgot he was without a job and that Rodgers was so busy giving him a bad name.
They were returning one afternoon from a walk which had taken them farther than they had planned when Ann happened to glance at her watch.
“Oh, Heavens, the time! Dinner will be over. Stupid. I’m perfectly ravenous.”
Paul was reassuring. “That’s why I stopped in at that house back there. I telephoned the chef.”
Ann made a point of never showing surprise, but it engaged all her faculty for suppressing it before the dinner was over. The small white-clothed table was laid for two in the manager’s private room. There were roses in a low silver bowl; candles; dishes filled with candied fruits and hothouse grapes. Ann showed her appreciation of the dinner with a not unpleasing zest. She was young enough not to be afraid to show she liked good food; not long enough out of school to have had her appetite jaded. By the time they arrived at the sweet, a marvellous confección shaped and colored like a rose, she looked reminiscently across the table at Paul.
“The last time I was late for dinner we had ham sandwiches and glasses of milk in the empty dining room.
Paul concealed a glimmer of satisfaction. She didn’t say so, but he suspected she had been with Randolph.
“I’m not greedy,” she explained, “but I like things done well. This,” attacking the sweet with appreciation, “is more of a tribute than ham sandwiches. Men can squander any amount and only make you think that a fool and his money—but you—well, you have the art. I would have said such a dinner was impossible in this old hotel. I like to see a man perform the impossible.”
“A pure relic of barbarism,” Paul smiled into the sea-blue eyes that the small table brought so near, “from the time when men went out and dragged home a lion. All we can do now is to go out and bring down a squab from the butcher’s shop. I’m glad if you’re pleased.”
“I am,” she said, “you please me quite often,” and she opened her eyes in her surprising fashion and Paul’s senses swam. He longed to tell her how rare and lovely she was; how she occupied every waking thought; walked through his sleep. But he was self-conscious and afraid. She would mock at him. Sentiment would have no place in her young life. Melting moonlight was not for her; she was clear; crystal; tingling.
Something of his feeling was communicated to her. “You’re doing ever so nicely,” she said, in a low thrilling tone, “better than I expected.”
He leaned forward, encouraged, wishing the table were not between them, and then it broke over him like a wave of cold sea water that he could say nothing. He wasn’t the kind to make love and leave it at that; he couldn’t possibly ask her to marry him. It might be years before he could consider marriage at all. Ann wasn’t the kind you could ask to wait.
The door opened and the waiter’s suave tones reached him.
“They’re in here, sir.”
Paul got to his feet as Mr. Perry, a middle-aged man with a thickish body and a very large nose, appeared on the threshold. Paul met him casually once or twice. Mr. Perry nodded while Ann smiled over her shoulder at her father.
“So here you are,” Mr. Perry said, putting his hand on the back of her chair. “I was wondering where you were.”
Mr. Perry’s eyes rested on the roses, the remains of the dessert, the dishes of marrons glaces and hothouse grapes, and a smile flickered over his large face. He gave Paul a quick glance and then looked down into Ann’s face, glowing and sparkling, “You’re doing yourselves rather well, aren’t you?” he said affably.
Ann nodded. “I should think we are. You wouldn’t have believed it possible in this hotel. Paul has a gift; I call it the unteachable,” and she sighed deliciously. “He does know how to do things beautifully.”
Paul flushed under Perry’s glance and then, in a flash, recognized the nose. Why, why, he thought in consternation, it was Morgan Perry of the United Steel Company. A great friend of Rodgers. In fact Rodgers was forever quoting him. Why hadn’t he recognized him before? This put a new aspect on things entirely. Ann had so much engaged his thoughts that he had never placed her. But now everything he had ever heard of Morgan Perry rushed upon him. A man who had toiled up the road to success; a man who had sweated and climbed and pushed forward to the top; a man who would not be able to tolerate extravagance in any form. And for extravagance Paul was noted.
Mr. Perry moved towards the door. “Well, I mustn’t be keeping you,” he said pleasantly. “I only wanted to know where you were, Ann.”
Paul sat down heavily as the door closed behind Mr. Perry’s bulky form.
“Why on earth didn’t you tell me your father was Morgan Perry?”
She stared at him in immense surprise. “Why, whatever do you mean? Surely you haven’t any objection to poor old Dad? I’ve always thought he was a dear old thing. Works hard; no bad habits, kind to animals ; goes to—”
“Good heavens! I wasn’t objecting to your father. I’m thinking of the objections he’ll have to me!”
The flicker of a smile passed over his face. The idea of his being critical of Morgan Perry was too ludicrous. Why hadn’t he done as Judy suggested and pulled up a bit? In his anxiety not to disappoint Ann, he had ruined himself with her father. Nothing was clearer than that. This little dinner—suddenly he pushed his chair back from the table hating the roses and hothouse fruits. Ann still stared at him in amazement.
“I don’t believe that Dad would object
to you at all,” she said finally. “You know you’re rather prepossessing.”
“He’ll believe everything he hears about me,” Paul replied gloomily, “and he won’t take the trouble to find out whether it’s true or not. Why should he? Give a dog a bad name—”
Ann appeared puzzled, then interested. “Don’t tell me,” she said leaning forward as though about to receive an intimate confidence, “don’t tell me that you possess a past!”
C^RAHAM came up for the week end J and added to Paul’s depressed state of mind. “I heard Rodgers talking at a dinner,” he remarked. “Too bad,” and Graham’s eyes rested worriedly upon Paul. “I’m sorry he’s being so malicious. I scarcely thought he’d bother.”
Paul nodded. “Rodgers promised he’d talk.”
“I’m afraid it’s going to kill your chances,” Graham’s tone was concerned. “I see that Morgan Perry is up here. I could talk to him but I don’t imagine it would do any good. Perry’s one of those men who won’t stand any nonsense. He’s hard as nails. There would be no budging him. Otherwise he could give you a job as easy as look at you.”
“I don’t care to ask him for one,” Paul said quickly. No, he certainly wasn’t going to make use of his friendship with Ann to ask her father for anything.
He strolled over to the hotel that afternoon to call for Ann, having arranged to take her swimming, with a nagging feeling of depression, which the sight of her only increased. Since she was not for him it only made matters worse to see her looking so utterly beguiling. He regarded her gloomily. Her hair shone like melted gold in the sun; her frock, the color of unripe almonds, swathed her throat and fell in ripples below her knees. It was an absurd frock, with its ridiculous incongruities of swathed throat and bare arms, he thought savagely. It made her appear altogether too lovely.
“What do you do it for?” he demanded angrily.
She turned eyes of deep blue innocence upon him.
“Look like that. What’s the good of it?” “Like what?”
“Like you do,” he replied cryptically. He was not going to be drawn into any saccharine compliments. Why did women tantalize men? It should be forbidden, he thought, staring at her miserably. She had for the moment cast aside her languor. Laughter lay on her lips: sparkled and gleamed in her face.
“You know,” she said, becoming tremendously confidential, “I’m not disappointed in you in the least. You began so well I scarcely thought you’d be able to keep it up. But you have. Besides being rather nice, you’re the most deliciously extravagant man I’ve ever met and that’s—”
“I’m nothing of the kind,” he interrupted sharply.
Her eyes opened very wide. “You mean you’re not extravagant?”
“Exactly. And I. won’t be called extravagant. It’s only the fools who are.” “Well,” the word contained a world of surprise, “you are amazing! Randolph said—oh, I really forget all he said. He doesn’t approve of you. He calls you a spendthrift. I told Dad this morning that you were too deliciously extravagant and he said—”
“You didn’t!” the words exploded from Paul like a rocket. “Surely you didn’t make any such fool statement? Why—” he glared at her. That certainly would finish everything. He could imagine how Morgan Perry would receive that delightful scrap of information. He writhed mentally.
“You look angry,” she was gazing at him with critical curiosity, “I like you that way. They say you should always see a man angry before you decide. Some men are so impossible. Some sulk; others pop-off; then there’s the kind that get nasty. You smoulder. That’s what I like. That makes me make up my mind.” “To what?” he inquired absently, still raging. “What are you making up your mind about?” He was thinking of Morgan Perry’s attitude towards the most deliciously extravagant man his daughter had ever met. It occupied his mind to the exclusion of all else. It made him hot and prickly all over.
“Why to marry you, of course,” she said simply, her tone exquisitely nonchalant.
He stood still. His heart seemed to stop too, and then go racing. His breath was sucked out of his body as though by a pump. There she stood in the sunlight, maddeningly cool and self-possessed, watching him with very evident curiosity.
It was apparent to him, at that moment, that she had never been in love; could have no conception of what he was feeling. She could play with the idea as though it weré a toy. If he could let himself go he could teach her; tell her v hat it meant to him ; force her to respond : He would make her know that love wasn’t a bright balloon to be tossed into the air for a moment’s entertainment, to collapse with the first prick. For that was evidently what she thought it was.
But he couldn’t say a word. And mean -while someone else would teach her. That ass Randolph for instance. Randolph could marry to-morrow. He was sick at the thought of losing her.
Before them stretched the wide beaches, crowded with bathers; he could hear their cries as they jumped in the surf. Behind them was the hotel, its verandas crowded with on-lookers. Ann had chosen a safe place for her casual proposal. Her eyes, he noticed, had caught up all the shimmer of the sea that lay before them. She was smiling, smiling, maddeningly. He knew he was appearing embarrassed; hot, distressed.
“You’re not very eloquent, are you?” her tone held a note of disillusionment, assumed or real, he didn’t know which. “I like a man to rise to an occasion. You’re disappointing after all,” she concluded with a bored air, “but I suppose most men are. In fact I’ve always found them so,” she added as though she spoke from'a life-time of experience.
Paul f didn’t trust himself to speak. Morgan Perry would never in this world hear of his daughter becoming engaged to Paul Cummings. He could scarcely go up to him and ask for his daughter and then say, “Now, sir, will you be good enough to give me a job so I can support her?” Scarcely! “The most deliciously extravagant man I ever knew.” Oh, it made him suffocate to think of Mr. Perry listening to such words. And if he should get a job to-morrow it wouldn’t help matters very much. Ann had damned him with those words. There were too many people to confirm it. He could have shaken her; then held her close and kissed her. That thought was too delirious a one to contemplate as shejwalked laggingly at his side.
He knew he should return to the city and put all thought of Ann away. It was rank foolishness staying on, spending the last of his money, yet he couldn’t make up his mind to go. Judy urged him to stay, wouldn’t hear of him going back to town. What was the use, she insisted, since he had nothing to do? And he allowed himself to be persuaded. So far as he could see there was no use in anything any more. He might as well take the last few crumbs and make the most of them since the outlook for the future was not particularly transcendent.
Starting for the golf links, with the hope of seeing Ann, he met her sauntering along the road with Randolph in the direction of the pier. She waved to him joyously, appearing to welcome the sight of him. Her disappointment of yesterday had completely faded. She was prepared to lay siege to his defenses from a new angle.
“Come along with us,” she cried in her exciting tones, “we’re going to the Indian village to buy baskets.”
Paul hesitated. He was in no mood for a cheerful expedition, but the look of absolute disgust on Randolph’s face decided him. It gave him deep satisfaction to annoy Randolph, who soon would have the field to himself. There were very few men at Rock’s Point and none in whom Ann showed the least degree of interest. Randolph would probably remain as long as she did, and there was a great deal to be said for propinquity.
There was an added sparkle in Ann’s eyes, as Paul turned and joined them. They walked down towards the pier, where a small supply boat, smelling of salted fish, was about to start on its trip along the coast.
It was a dirty little boat, that crawled
over the placid sea with occasional ¡ bursts of black smoke, but Ann appeared oblivious to her surroundings. She was in high spirits. Tilting her chair back, her | white tennis shoes on a rung of the rail, she turned her attention to Paul. It was quite clear to him she had only invited him to annoy Randolph. She ignored the latter so completely, that at length he got up angrily and went off to stroll about the narrow deck.
“Must have Viking blood,” Ann drawled, her eyes following Randolph’s retreating figure. “Likes to feel the elements battling around him.”
“Men are just a game to you, aren’t they?” Paul commented, not sorry to have Randolph leave them, but sure that on the way back his position and Randolphs’ would be reversed.
“Some are,” she said. “and some aren’t,” the side-long look she gave him clearly indicated her meaning. She was brazen in the way she was leading him on, but he knew it was only because he hadn’t risen to her bait. Once he did so she would withdraw; he would be treated like Randolph, who had apparently risen. For her it was a most delightful pastime.
Randolph returned only when the steamer approached Lorette, a small huddle of houses and shacks near the water’s edge, backed by a fringe of pine trees. A tiny pier thrust its gray nose some distance out into the water. There was a disagreeable smell of dead fish. The tide lapped over a dirty ridge of sand, littered with tin cans, drift-wood and sea weed.
“Filthy looking place,” Randolph objected, scanning the village with disgust. He ^was not in the best of humors. “I don’t see what ever you wanted to come for anyway. I’m going to wait on board while you get your old baskets.”
Ann was quite willing that he should, and Randolph sat down beside the rail while Paul followed her across the gang plank. They were the only passengers.
“It does look rather horrid, doesn’t it?” she said, wrinkling up her nose, as smells assailed it. They picked their way along the rotting pier and up a thread of dusty road, over-run by chickens, while children ran out of the shacks to gape at them.
Ann bought baskets at a small hut where a swarthy Indian woman, draped in a shawl, eagerly displayed her wares. / t length they emerged, Paul’s arms filled with Ann’s purchases.
“Oh, I’m dead with thirst,” she cried, stopping and looking around her at the shacks that comprised the village. “That looks to me like some kind of hotel over there. See if you can get any ginger ale.” Paul left her and returned in a few moments shaking his head. “There’s nothing to be got there. Come along to the boat. You’d better get on board.”
As they came along the pier Randolph ran to meet them.
“Well, we’re in a nice mess,” he shouted as soon as they were within earshot, “this beastly boat stays here until to-morrow.
I thought you said it went on down the coast and then back?”
So it does. Dad said so. You’re crazy, Randolph!”
“Well, it doesn’t. There’s nothing for us to do but stick around here until it goes back to-morrow. There are no roads. A sweet place to stay in.”
It will have to take us back,” Paul exclaimed. “I’ll see the captain.”
“I’ve seen him. A most engaging soul. He 11 take us back if we about buy the boat. We’ll have to stop at the hotel There’s nothing else for it.”
7urned to Paul in distress. “It’s filthy,” she said, her mouth curling in disgust.
“Well, you shouldn’t have come then,” Randolph snapped, his temper getting the better of him. “Now you've got to stay.” Paul went to look for the captain and found him unloading supplies. He was a fat man in a greasy blue suit. He had greedy eyes, and his manner was surly when Paul inquired if the boat were not going to return that day. No, the boat didn’t return until to-morrow. Why hadn’t they inquired? No, there were no roads back to Rock’s Point. The man at last indicated the shabby gray structure Ann had pointed out as the hotel.
“You can stop there.”
“Impossible,” Paul said sharply. “What will you charge to take us back?”
“Two hundred dollars.”
“You’re crazy! Two hundred dollars for a two hour trip?”
The man’s fat face assumed indifference. He shrugged and turned back to his work.
“See here, I’ll give you a hundred and fifty,” Paul offered.
The man considered it for a moment and then shook his head.
“Two hundred,” he persisted.
He was one of those obstinate, pigheaded brutes upon whom argument had no effect. At length after some discussion the man compromised on a hundred and seventy-five. Paul thought himself lucky to have brought him down at all. There was a faintly ironical smile on Paul’s face as he walked back to rejoin Ann and Randolph. The cheque he had written would just about wipe out all he had.
“It’s all right. He’s going to take us back.”
“How much did he ask you?” Randolph was alert with interest.
“Nevermind. I’ve settled it.”
“Well, I’m not going to put up a cent. If you’re paying what he asked me you’re a fool. He said two hundred dollars. You must be mad.”
“I didn’t ask you to pay anything,” Paul was contemptuous; he knew Randolph could well afford to pay the whole of it.
“Well, I’ve always heard you were a fool about money,” there was a sting in the words.
Ann was distressed. “We can easily stay at the hotel. You mustn’t give that abominable creature all that money. We can telephone Dad—”
“There’s no telephone in the place. That’s the trouble,” said Paul. “Don’t worry. It’s all right. (Come on, let’s get on board. He’s going to start as soon as he gets off those boxes.”
“Come on, Ann,” said Randolph getting on board. “If Cummings wants to fling his money around you may as well let him. He’s lucky to have it to fling.”
GRAHAM was furious. He had met Randolph and heard the full account of the trip which Paul had not mentioned to either Judy or his brother-in-law.
“You’re a proper fool,” he announced frankly. “It’s none of my business, but—a hundred and seventy-five dollars! Why in the name of all that’s purple, couldn’t you have stayed at the hotel? Perry knew where you were. He could have found out about the boats. Well it’s your funeral. Don’t ask me to help you out.”
“Thanks, I won’t,” Paul said icily and left the room.
Even Judy remonstrated. “But, Paul, darling—you really haven’t the money to—” she hesitated, her light blue eyes blinking before the expression in Paul’s face. It was cold and white; his eyes shone furiously.
“Thanks, Judy, I’ve had the sermon from Graham already. I’m about sick of being called extravagant. Let’s drop it.”
Judy was terribly distressed. “I didn’t mean—”
“I know. It’s all right. I’m rather upstage. Everyone’s getting after me. I think I’ll go out on the links for a game.” He was disenchanted with life. Everything he did put him farther in the hole, left him more open to criticism; turned against him. He was preparing to drive off from the first tee, when out of the corner of his eye he saw two bulky figures puffing up the slope. He looked sharply, thinking he had been mistaken. No, there was no doubt of it. Rodgers and Morgan Perry. They had come across from the seventh hole to cut in. Of all the two people—he swore grimly under his breath. They sat down on the bench to wait for him to drive.
A slice sent his first ball sailing into the woods. Paul cursed. “Do you want to go ahead, sir?” he asked Perry.
“Not at all. We’re cutting in.”
Paul topped his second. The ball went skipping along for fifty yards, struck a stone and jumped into the long grass. Every damned thing was against him. He couldn’t even get a decent drive!
“You’ll have a bad time finding that one,” he heard Mr. Perry remark to him from the bench.
Paul turned. “I’m not going to bother about it.” It took every atom of strength to control himself as he caught the expression on Rodgers’ round face. It flashed to him like a spark to gun-powder. He took another spotless white ball from his bag and teed it with precision. He’d show them some extravagance. He’d give them something to talk about. He’d drive a dozen new balls if he flet like it and let
them see he didn’t care a rip for their opinion. If they were all so dead keen on calling him a spendthrift, he’d give them reason for doing so. No use having a name and not living up to it, he thought, as he addressed his ball. Another slice was the result. The ball scuttled into the bushes like a rabbit.
Paul’s sense of humor came to his rescue. He took a grip on himself with a great effort. Carefully teeing a fourth ball, he beat out a terrific drive down the fairway. Without a glance at the men behind him, he took up his bag and left the tee.
He caught the murmur of conversation. He could imagine what Rodgers would be saying. His head went up. Let Rodgers talk. This would give him a fine chance. Morgan Perry would listen with interest. Next thing Perry would be frowning upon his friendship with Ann. Well, he would not be seeing her much more. He was going back to town to-morrow to take anything he could get.
Paul was sitting on the club house veranda after his game, staring vacantly before him. He rather hoped he might catch a glimpse of Ann before he left. Heavy footsteps padded along the veranda, coming nearer, a ponderous bulk was lowered into the chair beside him.
“Ah, Cummings, I’ve been looking for you,” Morgan Perry’s tone sounded affable. “I’ve been wanting to thank you for what you did yesterday. Ann said if it hadn’t been for you she would have had to stop at that hotel last night. She says you almost had to buy the boat—”
Paul stiffened at that. He had had so much criticism lately that he was looking for it in every innocent remark. “There was nothing else to be done;” his tone was weary; “there was scarlet fever at the hotel.”
Mr. Perry’s eyebrows lifted. “Scarlet fever? Ann didn’t tell me that!”
“She didn’t know. No use frightening her.”
Mr. Perry was silent. He nodded. That settled something conclusively in his mind.
“I’ve been playing around with Rodgers,” he began, “he’s been telling me about you.”
Paul continued staring in front of him. A muscular movement of his jaw, a clenching of his hands on the arms of his chair were the only indications to show that he had heard.
“He tells me,” Perry went on, a hint of amusement in his tone, “that you are the most extravagant young pup in the whole
“Yes,” Paul managed to answer, “I imagine that was what he would say.”
“I asked him why,” continued Perry, ignoring the effect of his remarks. “It always interests me to hear one man slanging another. Usually I find it argues a strong character in the other fellow. So I questioned Rodgers rather closely. He told me quite a bit,” and Mr. Perry smiled quietly. “He gave me in fact a detailed account of everything you had done at his factory. I found it mighty interesting.”
Some girls passed along the veranda behind them. The people were beginning to come in from the links. A smell of buttered tbast drifted out from the kitchen wing. Maids hurried to and fro carrying trays and order pads.
“I’m rather like Rodgers myself, I can't spend. I daresay I had to work too hard for the pennies. But there’s this difference. I can appreciate a man who can. I consider that money well spent is money saved.” He paused and Paul felt his wits scattering. Was Perry actually approving of him? He couldn’t believe it.
“I approved heartily of the plans you had worked out for Rodgers. Rodgers couldn’t see it. He hasn’t vision. He considered it all a waste. To my mind it was no more waste than what you did yesterday. Instead of running you down as Rodgers fancied he was doing, he was really describing a man with imagination—a man who could grasp a situation— who isn’t afraid to back his ideas. We need a man like that. Are you open for an offer?”
The railing seemed to come up and hit Paul in the face. He gave a short, nervous laugh. “I suppose, sir, you're not leading me on for the fun of the thing?”
Mr. Perry smiled. “Scarcely. I’ve seen and heard quite a lot about you from Ann. She tells me how nicely you do things: how well you spend. It all fits in with Rodgers’ account of you. Rodgers has saving on the brain. The only extravagance you’ve shown me was losing three golf balls, and I think I can understand that now. It started Rodgers off. He said that was the way you’d drive the profits out of any business,” and Morgan Perry laughed.
Quick light footsteps came along the veranda and stopped behind their chairs. Ann’s hands were laid on her father’s thick shoulders.
“Whatever are you two talking about?”
“I thought you were playing with young Harrison,” Mr. Perry countered.
“Oh, I let him go. He’s heavy work for a warm day. It’s hot. I feel the need of
something more stimulating than poor, Randolph.”
Her deep blue eyes looked provocatively at Paul standing beside her. Two chances were open to him; a chance to succeed; a chance to accept the challenge he read in Ann’s eyes.
“Let’s celebrate,” he said, with a note of exultation, “it’s— it’s—such a splendid afternoon.” With sudden realization his hand closed on the few bills remaining in his pocket. “Suppose—v. e—-suppose we have a cup of tea.”
Laughter bubbled on Ann’s lips. Without moving she appeared to sway towards him. Her voice rose clear. “Isn’t he—oh, isn’t he most deliciously extravagant?”