Porthos

The story of a wife who discovered that understanding is the one sure key to a husband's heart

ELISABETH SANXAY HOLDING September 15 1931

Porthos

The story of a wife who discovered that understanding is the one sure key to a husband's heart

ELISABETH SANXAY HOLDING September 15 1931

Porthos

The story of a wife who discovered that understanding is the one sure key to a husband's heart

ELISABETH SANXAY HOLDING

THAT girl again,” thought Mrs. Marlowe. The housemaid was smiling. Mrs. Marlowe sighed and then smiled herself.

“Well, take her to the sun porch, Selma, and ask her to wait,” she said with amiable resignation.

"Then come back, please. We’ve got to finish the market list.”

There was a mirror over her writing desk, and as she sat there Mrs. Marlowe could see the hall behind her. She saw Selma pass and in a moment return, followed by the girl.

She was really a very pretty girl in her own silly way, tall and willowy and dark, with a rich color in her olive cheeks and magnificent black eyes. But she was dressed in her usual barbaric style—all in red today, a wine-colored jersey dress, red straw shoes, a long necklace of ruby glass beads—and she had her usual air of haughty scorn that was a little pathetic.

"She’s getting to be a problem,” thought Mrs. Marlowe. “I don’t want to hurt the poor child, but she'll have to see . . . ”

The cook’s list was an enigma. Mrs. Marlowe had to wait for Selma to return and explain certain items.

“I wish you’d tell Hulda that there’s far too much butter being used,” she said in a good-humored way.

“Today she makes ice cream torte for him,” said Selma. “He asked.”

“Oh, in that case—” said Mrs. Marlowe, laughing.

Her husband’s enthusiasm for Hulda’s torte amused and a little distressed her.

“He’s so upset about putting on weight,” she thought, “and yet he will eat those things. He’s like a child about them.”

She checked the cook’s list carefully and Selma took it away. Mrs. Marlowe sighed again and rose.

She was a charming woman, blonde, slender, extraordinarily young for her thirty-five years. She was always good-tempered, self-possessed, competent, never tired and never at a loss. It was natural enough that she should be a leader in social activities and in more serious matters, too; and it was natural that this girl should come to her wfith her transparent schemes.

TT HAD begun some months ago, when the Drama Society had been putting on a light opera for the benefit of the hospital fund. This girl had presented herself at a very opportune moment. They had needed a contralto, and she had a really lovely voice. They had been glad to get her. She had worked hard, had been prompt at all the rehear-

sals, and had done very well in the three performances they had given. But the poor thing had been so—‘'pushing" was the only word for it. She had been too eager to run errands, to help with the costumes; she had seized every opportunity to get into the houses of Mrs. Blackwell and Miss Priest and Mrs. Marlowe. Especially Mrs. Marlowe's.

When the last performance had been given, when she had had that last supper with the caste, she should have disappeared. But she had not. She wanted to keep on being in things. She offered to sing at Kitty Blackwell’s wedding reception and was politely refused. She offered to type letters for the Women’s Political League and was again

refused. Then she had come to Mrs. Marlowe and asked if she could join the Country Club.

"I play golf,” she had said. That had seemed to Mrs. Marlowe very pathetic. She knew where the poor child lived —on Elm Street, in one of those dingy little houses where men sat on the steps in their shirt sleeves. She had been graduated from the public school on the other side of the railway tracks, had had one year in high school, and then had gone to work in Mr. Bellew’s real estate office. Mr. Bellew said she was very good at her work. Certainly she was ambitious. But how could she possibly have learned to play golf?

Mrs. Marlowe had been tactful and kind about the club. She had said pleasant, vague things about a waiting list and talking it over some other time.

“And now I suppose she’ll bring it up again,” she thought. “Poor child. Can’t she see . . . ?”

The girl was sitting in a wicker chair in the sun porch, her slender legs crossed, one arm thrown over the chair back in an attitude of nonchalant ease; but as soon as Mrs. Marlowe entered she sprang to her feet and was not nonchalant but deferential.

“Well, Miss Michaels?”

Mrs. Marlowe was not lacking in natural vanity. She knew she was pretty, but could not have imagined how she looked to Miss Michaels—whose name was not exactly Michaels but a Polish one difficult to pronounce—and who had seen in her young life more ugliness than Mrs. Marlowe would see till the end of her days. To Miss Michaels this woman in the doorway was marvellous, with her fair hair that glittered in the sun, her clear, pale skin, everything about her cool, delicate, exquisite.

That was how she wanted to be. That was how she would be.

“Well, I came—” she said. "I got a little car now, and I thought maybe I could take you down to the stores. Or I could go and get anything you wanted.”

“Oh, thank you,” said Mrs. Marlowe, a little touched. “But I’ll have to drive down later myself, in any case. It’s very nice of you, Miss Michaels.”

Still the girl stood there in all her dusky beauty, embarrassed yet resolute.

"Well, can I do anything?” she asked. “I got this car, passed my road test and all. Mr. Bellew’s going to let me take customers sometimes to look at houses.”

“Isn't that nice?” said Mrs. Marlowe pleasantly.

Still the girl did not go. The color deepened in her cheeks. “Well, listen. Mrs. Marlowe,” she said. “If you want anything done—I mean like, now, a tea party—if you want anyone to kind of help, I can always get time off.”

This was becoming painful ; it must be ended.

“Thank you, Miss Michaels,” said Mrs. Marlowe, still smiling. “There’s really nothing.”

Even Miss Michaels had to understand the finality of that tone.

“Well,” she said. “Well, all right.”

As she moved toward the door, compassion overcame Mrs. Marlowe.

“Is your car here?” she asked. “Do let me see it.” She went along the hall with the girl and opened the front door. There was the car, a cheap little sedan painted blue.

“Isn’t it nice!” cried Mrs. Marlowe. She could think of no praise sufficiently convincing. “It’s such a smart little car,” she said.

She was glad to see the glow of pleasure in the girl’s face. She said good-by to her, and entered the house with an uncomfortable feeling of compassion.

“But what could I possibly do?” she asked herself. “Even if I did manage to get the poor child into the club, she’d be perfectly miserable. Nobody would be nice to her. She’d be entirely out of her element. No; it’s impossible.

SHE went back to her writing desk to send a note to Mrs.

Blackwell about the Hallowe’en dance, but broke off as Selma entered the room with a package.

“A boy brought it,” said Selma.

“Mr. Marlowe must have bought a new suit,” said Mrs. Marlowe with a sigh.

Sometimes he did that —defiantly went off and bought a suit for himself and it was always regrettable.

“If a salesman just flatters him a little,” she thought, "Ivan’s simply wax in his hands. He never mentioned having got another suit. I’ll just see . . .

She unwrapped the box, while the privileged Selma stood by. interested. She and Mrs. Martin said very little to each other, but there was between them a wonderful understanding. They had been together for nine years, day after day, in the utmost harmony.

“Good gracious!” cried Mrs. Martin. “What—!”

She brought out of the box a blue satin coat with lace ruffles at the sleeves, blue satin breeches, a felt hat with a long plume.

“I guess that’s what Mr. Martin’s going to wear to the ball.” said Selma.

Their eyes met, and Selma grinned from ear to ear. With an effort Mrs. Martin kept her own face straight.

"Take it upstairs to the bedroom, Selma,” she said, and when Selma was gone she began to laugh.

"Oh, poor Ivan,” she thought. ‘But it’s not too late. I can change it for him.”

She had a busy day before her. She had told Ivan at breakfast that probably she would not be able to meet him at the station that evening.

“Don’t wait if I’m not there,” she had said.

"I never do,” he had answered gloomily. “You only come about once in three days.”

But his air of gloom had not troubled her. She knew that he was secretly proud of her activities, her popularity. She was vice-president of the Drama Society; she was on the Hospital Board, and was chairman of the Country Club Entertainment Committee. She was an excellent golfer, a tactful organizer, an impeccable housekeeper, and she was considered an authority upon bringing up children. Her two boys had perfect teeth, were models of physical development and behaved well. They were in camp now, and every second Sunday she drove out to see them. Ivan had gone with her on the first two visits, but he would not go any

“I need a rest." he had said.

She went about her affairs that day as usual and finished more quickly than she had expected. She got home at five

“I’ll be able to meet Ivan after all,” she thought, and was happy about it. She was upstairs in the bedroom, changing into a fresh white dress, when Mrs. Blackwell came running up the stairs. They were old and devoted friends; there was no ceremony between them.

"Hello, Sylvie,” Mrs. Blackwell cried cheerfully.

"Hello, Jean,” answered Mrs. Marlowe.

Jean Blackwell sat down on the edge of the bed and began to tell Mrs. Marlowe an absorbing story about the woman lawyer who had been visiting Miss Priest.

“I hated her, the instant I saw her,” said Jean Blackwell with candor. “I was so glad to hear something spiteful about her. You don’t appreciate gossip, Sylvie. You’re much too good-natured. It’s irritating of you."

They were still talking when a car stopped outside the house.

“There!” cried Mrs. Marlowe. “I lost track of the time and didn’t go to meet Ivan. That’s Ivan, isn’t it? In a

Mrs. Blackwell had gone to the window.

'Yes, it’s Ivan.” she said. “But not in a taxi.” "Someone’s given him a lift, I suppose.”

“Yes,” said Mrs. Blackwell. “That Michaels girl.

“Oh, poor thing!" said Mrs. Marlowe. “She’s so proud of that awful little car—”

“Sylvie,” said her friend.

“Well, what is it, Jean? I can see you’ve got some alarming communication.”

"I hate to repeat such stupid things—but that Michaels girl is making a perfect fool of herself about Ivan.”

YY THAT!” cried Mrs. Marlowe. "What are you talking ’’ V about, Jean?”

"My Kitty spoke about it. Everyone noticed. When we gave that opera, everyone —”

“My dear Jean !" Mrs. Marlowe began, and then started to laugh. “It’s the most absurd thing I ever—”

She broke off at the sound of her husband’s voice in the hall downstairs.

"Ivan,” she said, her voice still unsteady from laughter. “Jean, how can you tell me such a thing with a straight face?”

Mrs. Blackwell glanced at her with an odd expression. “Sylvie,” she said, “I wish you wouldn't laugh so much.” She was about to say more, but Ivan Marlowe was coming up the stairs and now appeared in the doorway.

He was a big man of forty-five, swarthy and stout, with a black mustache. He was an excellent business man, a faithful, homekeeping husband; he was altogether serious, respectable and correct.

“Ah, Jean.” he said. “Glad to see you.

“I’ve got to fly,” Mrs. Blackwell, giving him her hand. ’’We’11 see you at the Hallowe’en ball, Ivan?”

She ran down the stairs, and a minute later her car set off down the road.

“She’s putting on weight,” said Ivan.

“Don't you dare say a word,” cried his wife. “Ivan, dear, why don’t you make a habit of walking to and from the station?”

“Because I don’t choose to,” he answered loftily. "I suppose it’s never occurred to you that I might be tired? I suppose you have the usual feminine idea that I sit in my office all day telling fishing stories.”

“I know you’re tired, dear,” Mrs. Marlowe answered with her unfailing good humor. “But a little physical exercise would really rest you.

If you’d even do those exercises that Val does.

He’s lost twelve pounds just by—”

“I’m not interested in losing twelve pounds,” Ivan said sternly. “I take quite as much exercise as I need.”

She came to his side and ran her fingers through his dark

“Hulda’s made torte for you,” she said, half smiling. “And there’s broiled lobster.”

To her surprise he moved away from her.

“Very nice,” he said stiffly.

“Ivan, dear, I haven’t offended you, have I?”

“No,” he said, and patted her shoulder. “I think I’ll take a shower now.”

As she went into the hall the bedroom door was closed very briskly. She stopped and looked at it. disturbed.

"I did offend him,” she thought. “But it’s not like him to be so touchy.”

He must not be allowed to remain offended. When she heard him coming downstairs she went into the hall to meet him.

"Come and see my roses,” she said, putting her arm in his. “We have ten minutes before dinner.”

“Good,” he said heartily, and, out in the garden, he bent over the bushes, asked her questions, showed a quite unusual interest in the flowers.

"He’s sorry he was cross,” she thought. “He is a darling.”

SHE was glad to see how much he enjoyed his dinner, and made no protest when he ate three of Hulda's rich torte. “Got anything for me to read?” he asked as they went into the sitting room.

He devoured books. If he found an interesting one, he read it in an evening, but his taste was deplorable. Time after time she had tried to deflect him toward some new novel that everyone was talking about, but in vain. He would have nothing but stories of mystery and adventure; and for the most part she yielded to this and brought him what he liked from the library.

“I’ve got a wonderful book here, Ivan,” she began. “If you’ll just begin it—”

“I know what that means,” he said. “It’s another good book. That’s out, m’dear."

“Just try it to please me, Ivan.”

“I’ll give it twenty minutes.” he said. “But where’s The Three Musketeers, Sylvie? I’d like to look over that again.” The telephone rang and she answered it. A man’s voice answered, asking for Mr. Marlowe, and she called her husband.

“Hello,” he said. “Oh. yes . . . Yes . . . Yes, it’s here . . . Very nice . . . Well, I'd say no . . . They probably didn’t wear spurs on social occasions . . . Right!”

He hung up the receiver and went back to his chair.

“It was about that costume I got for the Hallowe’en ball,” he said. “Fellow who rents these things. You saw the costume, didn’t you?”

She had forgotten it until now, and, looking at her husband and recalling the blue satin breeches, the coat with lace ruffles, the hat with a plume, she wanted very much to laugh. But she forced herself to answer equably “Yes, I did, Ivan.”

“It’s a musketeer’s costume,” he said. “I wear a sword.”

"But, Ivan,” she said, and could not keep a tremor of laughter from her voice, “don’t you think that—?”

“That what?”

“You looked so nice last year in that monk’s costume.”

“I did not!” he said sternly. “I hated the thing. There were four others just like it.”

The thought of Ivan in blue satin breeches, with a sword, was too much for her. She turned away hastily and bent over some papers on her desk.

“I just thought it wouldn’t go well with my costume.” she said as steadily as she could. “Mine’s medieval, you

He did not answer, and when she glanced up she saw him sitting in his favorite chair under a lamp reading or pretending to read. There was a look on his face which she knew very well.

“He’s made up his mind to wear it,” she thought.

There was no use trying to argue with him in this mood. She regarded him with surprise; this portly middle-aged business man, so passionately conventional that he suffered anguish if he wore a dinner jacket when other men were wearing tail coats; who had been upset for a whole evening because a new waitress, come to help

Selma, had waited on the table at a dinner party wearing a pearl necklace that clinked against the plates.

“You never can tell with men,” she thought resignedly. “Well, after all, if it makes him happy ...”

ON SUNDAY morning she felt obliged to renew the old

discussion.

“Ivan, do come out to the camp with me. The boys will be so disappointed.”

“No, they won’t,” he said. “They’ve got the idea that the only man to be admired is the athlete. All right. I’m not an athlete. I used to play football in my time, used^to put eV-»r»t Rut twpntv v'Pars in an office . . .

He rose, and began to chew on his cigar.

"Damn it all !” he cried. “They might feel a little pride in what I’ve accomplished in the business world instead of sniggering when I get into a rowboat.”

"Oh. dear,” she thought, dismayed. “Poor dear old Ivan. So that’s it!”

She wanted to hug him, but she knew it would never do. “They do admire you, Ivan,” she said.

“No, they don’t,” he retorted. “Not as they do you. You can play tennis and swim with them.”

“But, Ivan dear,” she said, ready to weep for pity, “you used to be such a fine swimmer and you used to like riding. Why don’t you take up your riding again this summer and surprise them when they get back?”

‘Tve got something better to do than try to surprise a couple of schoolboys.”

She said no more about his accompanying her, but made up her mind to talk to the boys seriously. She got the car out of the garage and, leaving it before the house, went upstairs for her coat and hat. As she looked at herself in the mirror she felt a little thrill of pride and happiness that she was so slender and supple and alive, able to be a companion to her boys, to hold their admiration that was so immeasurably precious to her.

When she came downstairs she found Ivan walking up and down the verandah, smoking.

“I hate to leave you, dear,” she said. “What will you do all day?”

"Oh, I’ll manage,” he said. "Enjoy yourself, Sylvie.”

Still Mrs. Marlowe lingered, aware of a curious uneasiness which she could not define.

“I’ll be back by six o’clock,” she said. “And Hulda’s got a nice lunch for you. You’re sure you’ll be all right, Ivan?”

“Certainly.” he said, mildly surprised. I’ve been all right other Sundays, haven't I?”

She looked at him. He was very neat in his blue shirt and dark suit, and, even if he were too heavy, he was, she thought, still a handsome man.

“Poor old Ivan,” she thought, and kissed him.

He kissed her in return, and she ran down the steps and got into the car. When she turned she saw him standing at the top of the steps, looking after her.

TT WAS a perfect day, and the little car ran sweetly.

She enjoyed driving; she delighted in the response of the smoothly working mechanism. She loved the country, too. She had spent all her childhood in it, and it was her great pleasure now to recognize the trees, the birds, the flowers.

“I’m so glad the boys love those things, too,” she thought.

Ivan did not. He was city bred: knew nothing of the country except summer hotels. All that world of beauty was

dosed to him. She remembered with a smile the walks they had taken in the days of their courtship. Ivan had been a slender, handsome, romantic young man; he had been willing to admire a sunset or moonlight on a lake; but how bored the poor fellow had been with the long rambles she had loved. His idea of wooing had been to take her, in the most expensive and luxurious way, to theatres and restaurants. He would buy her long-stemmed roses when she so much preferred a little dewy bud from the garden.

Little by little they had adjusted themselves. He would

go on picnics with her and the children, and be very jolly and helpful: she would show suitable delight when he brought home theatre tickets as a surprise. They had not had the smallest quarrel for years and years. They were happy and peaceful together.

The camp was in a beautiful spot, on the slope of a wooded hill. Her heart sang as she came in sight of the little cabins, at the thought of the happy afternoon before her. The boys were, naturally, not demonstrative. They would welcome her with nonchalance, but she knew' they were always happy to see her. She hoped they looked forward to her visits. There were always other parents there on Sundays. Mr. Craddock, the director, provided at what his booklet called a “nominal cost" a nice little lunch for them, and they could enjoy the spectacle of their sons swimming, canoeing, building fires with consummate wood-

It was odd, she thought, that there were no other cars parked at the end of the road this morning. She got out, the silence overwhelmed her so she knew at once that the place was deserted. She ■went to Mr. Craddock's cabin; it was empty and looked in at the door of the boys’ cabin; it was austerely neat and very empty. The pines stirred in the w'ind, the sun lay warm on the thick mat of pine needles underfoot. Through the trees she could see the brook glinting in the sun. It was so quiet, too quiet.

Then from one of the cabins a lean young man in spectacles came hurrying out, dressed in shorts and a khaki shirt. This was Mr. Knight, who ■ coached such unhappy boys as must study even in the summer.

“Mrs. Marlowe!” he cried. Didn’t your boys tell you?”

“Not a thing, Mr. Knight.”

“They all left on Friday for a three days’ hike up the mountain. I understood that all the parents had been notified. I particularly impressed upon all the boys to write.”

“Well, mine didn’t,” said she. “And here I am.” The young man was greatly distressed.

“I’d be more than pleased.” he said, “if you’d have a bite of lunch with me.”

Mrs. Marlowe accepted. What was more, she c joked the lunch in evpert fashion. The young man’s admiration was obvious.

“You’re taking this thing in a wonderful way, Mrs. Marlowe.” he said. "Most of the mothers would have been upset and angry. You’re wonderful !”

She was glad that she had been able to conceal from him her hurt and disappointment. She tried not to feel so; tried to make allowances for her boys.

“They’re only children,” she told herself. “They forget things.”

But they had forgotten her. This fortnightly visit, which meant so much to her, was evidently of little importance to them. She was grateful for young Mr. Knight’s admiration; it helped her. When she got into the car to drive home, she was glad to remember his words. He had called her “sporting” and “won-

“I won’t reproach the boys,” she thought. “I’ll just write and tell them that I came, that I was surprised ...”

But she could not take it lightly: could not banish from her mind a feeling of desolation.

“I’m going to get Ivan to come out sometime when I get back,” she thought.

Ivan never refused to do what she asked. She would pretend to him that she thought the boys’ “forgetfulness” was only funny, but he would understand.

She turned the corner of the familiar street and saw, to her amazement, a certain blue sedan standing in front of the house.

“Good heavens! Miss Michaels!” she thought. “If she’s caught poor Ivan alone, she’ll make him do anything she wants; promise to get her into the rmb or anything else."

She parked her car beside the b> ae sedan and went along the path, half annoyed and half amused.

“Poor Ivan will be so polite to her,” she thought. “Didn’t Jean say she’d been running after him? But that’s absurd.” The front door was unlocked as usual. She opened it and

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went in, curious to see how Ivan was getting on with his visitor. Outside the door of the sitting room she stopped as if an invisible hand had struck her.

TT WAS incredible, impossible; it was like

a scene in a dream. That could not be Ivan; that big, handsome, swaggering man in a plumed hat and blue satin coat, leaning back in his chair, twirling his mustache! And beside him on a hassock, looking up into his face with soft eyes, Miss Michaels.

“I think it was sweet of you to put on your costume for me to see,” she was saying.

"It was your idea,” said Ivan.

“I just knew how swell you’d look dressed like Porthos,” she cried. “Gosh, I’m crazy about that book ! And I always liked Porthos the best. I mean, he wasn’t tricky like Aramis, or kind of hard like D’Artagnan, or sort of stern like Athos. I mean, he was kind to everyone—like you are.”

Again Ivan twirled his mustache, and that was too much for Mrs. Marlowe. She entered the room smiling but with an unwonted color in her cheeks.

“Oh, Miss Michaels,” she said.

She was glad to see the girl frightened, guilty, confused. Deceitful, hateful little schemer, creeping in to flatter Ivan and make a fool of him !

“I didn’t expect to find you here,” she went on.

“I rang up Miss Michaels,” said Ivan. “I asked her to come and give me her opinion of the costume.”

Mrs. Marlowe had a queer sensation as if the ground trembled beneath her feet. Ivan asking this girl to the house, Ivan defending her. She turned to him, and in spite of his costume he was not ridiculous. What was that look on his face?

“Very nice, I’m sure,” she said. “Does Miss Michaels approve of it?”

She wanted to hurt. She had in her cool, light voice an inflection which she knew would hurt.

“I hope so,” said Ivan. “Sit down, Sylvie. We’ve been having tea.”

She noticed then that there was a tray on a little table, with cups and saucers on it and a plate of tourte. Ivan must have ordered this. Selma must have laughed to herself to see that as soon as her mistress’s back was turned her master sent for this girl.

“No, thanks,” she said. “I suppose Miss Michaels will be going now?”

She turned back to the girl and saw that she was crying. Let her cry.

“Sylvie,” said Ivan.

“Really,” Mrs. Marlowe said with a short laugh, “I—”

Then suddenly her anger, her pain, her fear, overwhelmed her. For years and years she had been so placid, so amiable, with her cool, smiling dignity. Now all that deserted

“Miss Michaels!” she cried. “I’m surprised. I’ve done my best—”

“Sylvie!” said Ivan again. “You don’t understand.”

“On the contrary—”

“I’m awfully sorry I got you in bad, Mr. Marlowe,” said the girl with a sob. “I guess I’ll be going.”

As she moved toward the door, she stumbled against the little table and the tray fell to the ground with a crash.

She cried out, terrified, and knelt down to pick up the fragments of broken china.

“Please don’t bother,” said Mrs. Marlowe scornfully.

Ivan took the girl’s arm and raised her.

“No harm done,” he said, smiling at her.

Scarlet, her lashes still wet, she looked up

Mrs. Marlowe saw what she had done.

She thought of Ivan in his blue satin coat, twirling his mustache. How long was it since anyone had flattered him? Certainly she had not. She had been kind, goodnatured; she had made his home comfortable —and left his spirit to starve. She and her children, so superior, so nimble, so competent . . .

That very afternoon she herself had had a taste of the draught Ivan had to drink. She had found herself forgotten, not needed. And she remembered what balm young Mr. Knight’s admiration had been.

'"PHAT was what Ivan had wanted and Jneeded; praise, perhaps even flattery. She had not given it to him and he had turned elsewhere. Why should he not be better pleased by that lovely child, sitting at his feet, her eyes raised to his face, than with his amused, affable wife?

And was it all flattery, after all? Was it, after all, impossible that this girl, so often rebuffed in her pathetic ambition, should truly, honestly appreciate Ivan’s kindness? That, coming from her sorry home, Ivan’s courtesy and gentleness should seem to her almost a miracle?

“I wish you wouldn’t laugh so much,” Jean Blackwell had said. Well, she wanted to cry now.

“Miss Michaels,” she said. “Do sit down, won’t you? I’ll ring for some hot tea.”

She saw the girl looking at her in amazement, half afraid this was some trap.

“I was upset when I came in,” Mrs. Marlowe went on. “You see, I drove all the way out to the camp and the boys weren’t

“Not there?” cried Ivan, instantly and generously sorry for her.

“No. The whole camp had gone on a

She felt that she was perilously dose to tears, a weakness she despised. She crossed the room and rang for Selma.

“That’s a shame,” said Ivan. “Poor girl !”

She looked at him and their eyes met. Mrs. Marlowe knew then that the Michaels girl was only an outsider; she could afford to be kind to her.

“Sit down, Miss Michaels,” she said, in a tone which made the girl sigh with relief.

“I’ll go up and take this thing off,” said Ivan, but she laid her hand on his sleeve.

“No, don’t,” she said. “It’s the most becoming thing—You can’t imagine how it suits you.”

“Nonsense, m’ dear girl,” he said, laying his hand on hers.

But with his other hand he began to twirl his mustache. The End