The Pink-soap Princess
ELISABETH SANXAY HOLDING
He was hired to drive her car but he found that life was much more complicated than that
MOORGATE strolled up and down the aisles made by the trunks and bags of the luggage sale. He was alert enough whenever a customer appeared; he was always polite and painstaking. But the section manager, Mr. Metz, found something very annoying in that nonchalant air; he suspected arrogance beneath Moorgate’s civil manner.
The sale was far from brisk, and the assistant buyer was nervous and irritable. He, too, found Moorgate annoying, with his noticeably well-cut dark suit, his neat fair hair, that look on his face as if he were smiling even when he was not.
“Mistake to get in fellows like that,” he said to Metz. “They think they’re too good for their job. Well, if this sale’s a flop, it’s directly due to the display department and the lousy window they put in. We’ve got a wonderful line, but you got to make the public realize ...”
Moorgate saw someone approaching—a girl, tall, very straight, and with a purposeful air. As she drew nearer, he saw that she was extraordinarily beautiful, with shining black hair and deep blue eyes and an exquisite skin. Beautiful and very, very sure of herself. She went straight to a wardrobe trunk, the most expensive one.
“How much?” she asked.
Moorgate told her; he swung out the rack, pulled open the drawers, explained all its merits. She listened, and examined it.
“How about this one?” she asked.
“That’s a very good trunk, too. madam,” said Moorgate. “But it hasn’t the style of the other.”
“How much?” she asked again.
He told her—a figure considerably less—and as she seemed interested, he demonstrated this one too.
“It’s just as good,” said the girl. “The extra price is only for show.”
Glancing at her, he saw her dark blue eyes regarding him steadily; and somehow that look, that air of cool composure, nettled him.
“Isn’t it worth paying a bit extra to make a good showing?” he asked.
“Sometimes,” said she. “The thing is to get your money’s worth.”
“Of course, it’s my duty to try to make you buy the more expensive trunk,” said Moorgate, and he said it with that smile the section manager didn’t like.
“Why?” asked the girl. “D’you get a commission?”
“No, it’s for my record.”
“I’ve got my own record to think of,” said she. “I’ll take the cheaper one.”
“Cash,” said she. “Send it to the Hotel Leblanc.”
“Can I interest you in some bags, madam?”
“Nope,” said she. “Just the trunk, thanks.”
As he took out his salestxxik, he felt that she was looking at him again.
“You haven’t been doing this long, have you?” she asked.
“Do I seem rather amateurish?”
“You don’t like your job, do you?”
"It’s valuable experience,” said Moorgate. “I’m learning a lot.”
“What else can you do?”
Not before in his life had Moorgate encountered anyone so high-handed. He resented her questioning, and yet he was amused.
“I can ride,” he said. “I can dance. I can drive a car.” “How well can you drive?”
“A bit better than anyone else* on earth,” he said.
“Do you understand engines?”
"I do,” he said.
“I’ve just bought a new imported car,” said she. “It’s a dream to drive.” She paused a moment, and their eyes met. “Suppose you come and see me this evening at the hotel,” she said. "About seven.”
“Thanks very much,” said Moorgate, not smiling now.
MOORGATE hated the cracked yellow window shade in his furnished room; he hated the chocolate-colored carpet and the white iron bed; he hated the monotonous ixrverty of his life. lie hadn’t been in a place like the Hotel Leblanc for a long time ... 1 Iorgan, that girl’s name was; Miss M. Horgan ... He put on his dinner jacket and adjusted his black tie before the mirror. And he didn’t like himself very much.
“Oh, what do I care?” he cried to himself. “No rules in this game. You take what comes along, that’s all.”
He took a taxi to the hotel; the fare was the price of two lunches, but it was worth it. lie lit a cigarette and leaned back, looking at the glitter of lights, and he remembered things. He remembered London, and Paris, gay, well-bred voices, music . . .
“You take what comes along,” he said to himself.
The hotel lobby was lively: he could see people going into the dining room. Flowers on the tables, soft lights, deferential waiters. He thought of the cafeteria where he was in the habit of eating his dinner. He went up to the desk, told the clerk that Mr. Moorgate was here to see Miss Horgan.
Mr. Moorgate was to go up to 1407. He stepped into the elevator and suddenly he wished he hadn’t come. This girl was obviously rich, obviously interested in him. It wasn’t a situation that showed him to liest advantage.
But he got out at the fourteenth floor and rang the bell of the door at the end of the corridor. A maid in uniform admitted him. and led him to a sitting room. Miss Horgan was there, at a little desk, writing; she turned her head and looked at him. She was wearing black lounging pyjamas made in a Chinese style, a coat with a high collar; her dark, shining hair was brushed back from her forehead; her beautifully modelled face was composed as ever, but there was something stern in her deep blue eyes.
“Close the door, will you?” she said.
He did so, and stood near it, and they looked steadily at each other.
“Did you think this was a social invitation?” she asked. He saw his mistake now, and his face grew white.
“No, Miss Horgan,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t. I’m on my way to a dinner. But you asked me to stop by.”
“I meant to offer you a job,” she said. “But ...” She paused. “I don’t think you’d like it.”
He said nothing, and after a moment she went on.
“I need someone who’ll take charge of my three cars, on my place in the country,” she said. “A head chauffeur, with a helper under him. The salary’s a hundred and fifty a month, living expenses included. You told me you understood cars.” There was another of those pauses. "Do you want the job?” she asked.
“May 1 ask why you’re offering me this—opportunity, Miss Horgan?”
“I’m a pretty gcxxl judge of character,” said Miss Horgan. “I think you’ve got a level head and plenty of nerve.”
“You’ll want references, of course.”
“Nope,” said she. “My father always says that references aren’t worth a darn. People’ll give good references, out of kindness or out of laziness. My father's idea is that you’ve got to learn to size people up for yourself.”
“I see,” said Moorgate. He had to take it. He had to stand before this beautiful, self-possessed girl, had to endure the steady regard of her dark blue eyes. “She knows darned well,” he thought. “She knows why I came dressed.”
“Do you want the job?” she repeated.
“Thanks,” said Moorgate.
“Okay,” said she. “Can you be ready to drive me out to the country on Friday?”
“Yes, Miss Horgan.”
He spoke with a deference so exaggerated that it was insolent. But she either did not notice it or she chose to ignore it
“I’ll ring up the garage about you,” she said, “so that you can get the car out. Nine o’clock Saturday morning, then.”
And Moorgate, in his Bond Street dinner jacket, bowed. “Very well, madam,” he said.
Af FIVE minutes to nine, Moorgate was outside the hotel, and promptly at nine Miss Horgan came out, accompanied by another girl.
“ ’Morning,” she said briefly, and gave him very clear directions for reaching her house.
Moorgate .looked at the other girl with the interest natural to him. She was dark, slight, not really pretty, but provocative, with her slanting dark eyes and her wide red mouth; and, though she was dressed quietly enough, all in black, she managed to suggest a dangerous audacity. As a rule, girls were interested in him: this one, however, gave him only a casual, impersonal glance as she got into the car. He had the novel experience of driving for some fifty miles with two very attractive girls without getting a word from either of them.
The house was large and pretentious, with wide lawns, a formal garden with a fountain. The two girls got out, a butler opened the dcxir and they vanished inside, leaving Moorgate to shift for himself. He drove the car to the garage, where two other cars stood; he went up the stairs and found two nice little rooms and a bath; he got his bags out of the car and unpacked. Presently a young housemaid came with his lunch on a tray; it was a good lunch, and he was hungry. He had just finished it and lit a cigarette when the telephone rang.
“The roadster in fifteen minutes,” said the butler.
In fifteen minutes Moorgate had the roadster before the house, and the girl in black came out and got in beside him. "I want to go to the village,” she said.
"I’m sorry, but I’ll have to ask for directions somewhere,” said Moorgate. “1 don’t know my way about here yet.”
“Well, of course, you’re not really a chauffeur,” said she. “I saw that at once. You’re a duke in disguise, aren’t you?”
Her tone was balm to him, and her smile.
“I’m a countess,” she went on. “The Contessa degli Orini. Cute, isn’t it? Let’s just drive along the road. What 1 really want is a place to make a telephone call where I won’t be overheard by Myrtle’s hundreds of servants.”
Half-mocking, half-friendly, wholly dangerous, this girl. Moorgate had met girls like her before—daring, deliberately alluring, but never really reckless, always cool and cautious at heart. But he had no objection to a little danger. They smiled at each other.
“And of course Myrtle’s a princess,” she said. “The Pink-Soap Princess, we used to call her at school. Her
father makes Horgan’s Cream of Roses Soap . . • She decided to have one summer in the East before she settles down in Horgansville, and father approves. Father always approves of everything Myrtle does. So different from my family . . They were in a rage when I got married, and they’re in a rage now when I’m trying to get unmarried Here’s a place.”
She went into a little general store at a cross-roads; she
took a long time making that telephone call. She talked to Moorgate all the way home.
“Thank you, duke,” she said when they reached the house.
AS SOON as Moorgate had brought the contessa back, Miss Horgan wanted the sedan, to go to the railway station.
“I’ll drive,” she said.
“Very well, madam,” said Moorgate, and sat beside her and didn’t look at her once. She drove well, he noticed; probably she did everything well.
“Did you ever hear of Guy Cullen, the playwright?” she asked abruptly.
“No, madam,” said Moorgate.
“Well, that’s who I’m going to meet,” said she.
A handsome fellow, this Cullen —tall, lean, distinguished, with a smile half-humorous, half bitter. A porter set two bags down beside him, and as Moorgate advanced to take them to the car he heard the first conversation between him and Myrtle.
“I didn’t want to come,” said Cullen. “I’ve been to ten thousand week-end parties. I’ve met everybody in the world. I can only hojie I haven’t met you before.”
Myrtle didn’t answer; she was looking at Cullen with her fine dark brows drawn together.
“She doesn’t know how to take that,” thought Moorgate, not sorry to see her at a loss for once.
“I don’t remember ever meeting you.” she said.
“1 didn’t mean that quite literally,” he said. “I’m very sure I’ve never seen you before. I’d remember.” His eyes rested on her face. “It’s just that there are only five or six people in the world. Five or six types and their variations. That’s all.”
“Only five or six?” Myrtle repeated and thought that over for a moment. “Well, we’d better get going now.”
Moorgate drove, and Myrtle and Cullen sat together in the back.
“That’s a wonderful line he has,” thought Moorgate, listening to their talk.
A wonderful line, to meet her cool self-confidence with this veiled insolence, to counter her straightforwardness with this ironic subtlety. It was obvious that Myrtle was piqued, a little puzzled and very much interested.
“1 could be a bit sorry,” thought Moorgate. “But it’s not my business.”
Six or seven more i>eople drove out for the week-end, and Moorgate and his helper, Hickey, were kept busy. From his room Moorgate could see the house, blazing with lights, could hear music. Under cover of the darkness he took a little stroll; he had a glimpse of Myrtle on the lighted terrace, Myrtle in a long white satin dress, low-cut, classically simple. It made her look taller; she was so straight, beautiful as Astarte, goddess of the moon, with her prou dark head. Cullen stood beside her, his tired eyes fixed on her face.
“Not my business,” said Moorgate to himself.
She was the only one who didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, the only one who was never tired. Her vitality was extraordinary. By Monday afternoon all the guests had gone, and she settled down to her own routine. Up early every morning and off on her horse, alone, straight and easy and sure. She took walks, all alone; she went to the beach and swam, all alone. The local i>eople çlicln’t approve of Miss Horgan.
She ran her household very competently. She would spend plenty of money for anything she wanted, but she never wasted a dollar. She paid good wages, but she expected good service. She was decisive, vigorous, but never impatient.
“A superwoman,” said Moorgate to himself. “No weakness—perhaps.”
THE NEXT Friday more people were coming out, and Moorgate drove her down to the station in the imported car. The guests got out of the train all together, only five of them, but they made a wonderful stir; they stood in a group, all talking, surrounded by their bags. And one of them was the contessa.
With the nonchalant air that had once so irritated Mr. Metz, Moorgate approached them, picked up two of the bags and carried them to the car, returned, took three more. When he went back for the last two, the contessa had lingered behind.
“Hello, duke,” she said softly.
“Good afternoon, madam,” said Moorgate. When their eyes met he couldn’t help smiling; they walked side by side to the car.
“I want to sit in front, Myrtle,” said the contessa. Moorgate did not think that was a very good idea. He kept his eyes on the road.
“Still here?” she said. “I’m rather surprised.”
She spoke to him as she might speak to any man of her own circle, and he couldn’t quite resist that.
"Perhaps I’m a better chauffeur than you realize,’ he
said. . „ .,
“You’ve no idea how much I appreciate you, said the contessa.
He stopped the car for a red light.
"Have you a cigarette?” she asked.
He brought a packet out of his pocket and she took one. “Match?”
He held out his pocket lighter, and as she leaned forward their eyes met again.
“What a ducky little briquet,” she said. “Where did you get it?"
“It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for, for long weary years,” she said. “Tell me the name of the shop and I’ll send for one.”
She was a girl and a very attractive one. Moorgate forgot that he was a chauffeur.
"I don’t know where it came from,” he said. "It was a present. If you like it. won’t you let me give it to you?” "Sweet of you,” murmured the contessa.
The light changed and he started the car. The contessa sat playing with the little lighter for a time; then she put it into her purse.
MOORGATE put the car away and went up to his rooms. And almost at once the telephone rang.
"Miss Morgan wishes to see you in the library,” said the butler.
Moorgate entered the house through the back door and went along the hall to the library a vast, high-ceilinged room, furnished in a sort of Renaissance style. Myrtle sat there in a high-backed chair, straight as an arrow, in a sleeveless white dress.
“M(X)rgate,” she said, “what did you do before you sold trunks? Ever have another job?”
“For one day,” he answered. “I got my license as an air pilot and a job with a big company. Hut I smashed my plane the first, time I took her up. My own fault. They fired me. Naturally.”
“You haven’t got the right jx)int of view,” she said, and was silent for a time. The lighted lamp behind her shone on her smooth black hair; her face was downcast, rather unhappy, he thought.
“First time I went to Europe, I was seventeen.” she said. “Miss Haupstadt took a group of us. That was when Eulalie Ililby met the count she’s married to now. That was the idea of the trip. Social contacts. I learned to size people up when I was still a kid. My father told me I d have to learn to do that.”
"That must be very useful.” said Moorgate politely. “You're never mistaken in people any more? Never disappointed?”
“Meaning you?” she asked.
He was a little taken aback by that sudden directness; he did not answer for a moment.
“Yes,” he said. “Meaning me. You must have sent for me to tell me I've done something you don’t like.”
“You’re right. Everybody noticed the way you acted this afternoon. They thought it was a joke. Eulalie—the contessa—will go around showing everyone that little lighter. She’ll tell everyone my chauffeur gave it to her. That's just not enough, Moorgate. I’ll give you one more chance.”
“Thanks, Miss Morgan,” said Moorgate, "but I’m afraid—I don’t quite know how to put it. Does a chauffeur resign?”
She glanced at him quickly, and then away again. “Okay,” she said. “If you want to quit, all right.”
“I do,” he said. "You can get someone in an hour to take my place. A Russian prince, very likely.”
He waited a moment, but she said nothing and he went out of the room, out of the house, back to his own quarters. He smoked a few cigarettes and then began to pack his belongings, neatly and deftly, as he did everything.
LOVE?” said Cullen thoughtfully. “Yes; I couldn’t ‘ write my plays without love. There’s nothing else that makes so many interesting complications.”
“Silly, isn’t it?” said the contessa.
“Or tragic,” said Cullen. “Heaven knows which.”
They were walking side by side across the lawn in the dark ; her long dress brushed softly over the grass.
“Nothing is tragic to you,” she said.
“And that, my dear girl, is the essence of my tragedy.’'1 "We’re having a conversation out of one of your plays,” she saifl, with an unsteady little laugh. “I’m glad I found out in time that you can only talk about things, never feel them. You almost hurt me. once. Perhaps it would have been gcxxl for me, if I’d cared more. Hut that s all over now. I can watch you court Myrtle without a pang.
“Am I obvious about it?”
“No. Quite clever. The world-weary genius line is perfect.”
“You not only look like a cat, Eulalie; you are a cat.”
“I’d love to see you marry Myrtle,” she said. “She’d manage you.”
“Heavens! She’s a barbarian. She told me today that I looked ‘out of condition.’ She suggested that I drank too much. She looked me over, as if I were one of her father’s broncos.”
Continued on page 24
Continued from page 7—Starts on page 5
“Her father hasn’t any broncos. Just factories. I think it’s good for you, Guy, to have Myrtle look you over.”
“Do you? I don’t seem to care for it. I realize, of course, that Myrtle is superior to everyone else on earth, and that she has every right to rebuke the rest of us. But—”
“Ah ha! A note of bitterness.”
“Myrtle likes the idea of marrying a genius. She wants to patronize the arts.” “Has she agreed?”
“Not yet. But she will. She feels that I need to be helped ; turned into something else. And who can do that better than she?”
“You’re so very bitter,” said the contessa, “that I think you’re a little in love with Myrtle.”
“I don’t know. Perhaps I am. I fall in love quite differently each time. Anyhow, I’m going to marry Myrtle. I’ve hinted at it to her and she was interested.”
“Myrtle has one great virtue at least, hasn’t she, Guy? Her money.”
“Crude, my dearest girl.”
“Money is rather crude, isn’t it? I’ve always had too much—and too little. Enough to make a fool of myself with— and never quite enough to get what I want.” She sighed. “It’s ail very sad, isn’t it? I hope you will marry Myrtle.” “I’m going to read her the second act of my new play tonight, after everyone else has gone to bed. It’s very moving. It’s a love scene.”
“You do them beautifully, Guy.” “Excuse me, sir,” said a voice behind them. “There’s a telephone call for you, Mr. Cullen. You can take it in the garage.”
“Will you wait, Eulalie?” asked Cullen. “I don’t know,” said the contessa. “I don’t like waiting.”
THE TELEPHONE rang and rang and rang. Moorgate, in his shirt sleeves, sat smoking a cigarette and staring at the instrument, until at last the intolerable noise stopped. He gave a sigh, and stretched out his long legs, as if released from some violent tension.
Everything was packed; he was ready to leave in the morning. He didn’t feel like going to bed. He had plenty to think about. Sounds reached him from the house—jazz coming over the radio, a woman’s laugh; somewhere in the distance a train whistle blew, a long and melancholy wail; tree toads piped cheerfully. He stirred, and sighed again. And now he heard a step on the stairs that led up from the garage.
He rose as Myrtle entered. She wore a long, closely-fitted dress of a blue that nearly matched her eyes; there were two diamond bracelets on her slender bare arms; two little diamonds glittered above her temples. She looked beautiful and angry as an affronted goddess.
“I’ve been trying to get you on the telephone,” she said. “Why didn’t you answer?”
“I didn’t know it was you.”
“It’s your job to answer the telephone.”
“I’ve resigned my job, Miss Horgan.”
He could see the effort she made to restrain her anger, and he admired it.
“You’re going to be sorry for this.” she said. “I tried to give you a chance. The police are coming.”
“Because I didn’t answer the telephone?”
“You know darned well why. It’s what you did to Guy Cullen.”
“Oh, that?” said Moorgate. “I thought that was just a gentleman’s disagreement. I didn’t expect Cullen to summon outside aid.”
“He didn’t. He couldn’t. He’s pretty sick. It was Eulalie who sent for the police. She’s been giving Guy whisky ever since he got back to the house, until he just doesn’t know what it’s all about.”
“Well?” said Moorgate, and lit a cigarette.
“No smoking—” she began.
“I’m not on duty,” said Moorgate. He inhaled once, leisurely, and then crushed the cigarette out in the tray on the table. “I’m doing this,” he said, “just to please you.”
HER BLUE eyes blazed ; she was silent for a moment, breathing rather quickly.
“You haven’t any time to spare,” she said. “Get going, quick.”
“D’you want to be arrested and put in jail?”
“Yes,” answered Moorgate.
“Don’t be a fool,” she cried. “If you’ll get away quick I can hush this thing up. I can get Guy to drop the charge.”
“If you do,” said Moorgate, “I’ll beat him up again.”
“See here, Moorgate—”
“Charles is the name,” he suggested. “More courteous, don’t you think, now that I’m not your chauffeur?”
“Oh, don’t be a clown! This is serious. Eulalie will see to that. She’s furious. She said you pretended there was a telephone call for Guy and that when you got him in here, you insulted him.”
“I told him I didn’t like his plays. I said they were cheap and banal. Tripe. And then he lost his temper.”
“Of course that was just a pretext . . . to hide your jealousy.”
“Jealousy?” said Moorgate. “I can’t see one single reason for being jealous of Cullen.”
“Well, he’s a successful man—”
“Oh, no!” said Moorgate cheerfully. “He may be a successful playwright— though I doubt even that. But he’s not a successful man.”
“And you are?” she said scornfully.
“I was a good chauffeur,” he said. “If I’d kept on where I was before, I’d have been a good luggage salesman.”
“That’s all the ambition you have?”
“I had a full set of ambitions once,” said Moorgate. “I expecced to inherit my uncle’s estate. I was going to be the most progressive and enlightened landlord in England. I even thought of standing for Parliament in the course of time. But my uncle married again, at sixty, and produced a new heir.”
“And just because you couldn’t get what you wanted, you’ve wasted your life.”
“In the first place,” said Moorgate, “my life isn’t finished yet. Impossible to know what I may do. And in the second place, I don’t think I’ve wasted what I’ve had of it.”
“Well ...” she said, with an oddly uncertain glance. “Well, there’s no time to talk. I got my father on the telephone. You can get a train for Horgansville at six tomorrow morning, and my father’ll give you a job.”
“In the soap factory?”
“Yes!” she said. “A job at the bottom, too.”
“Thanks,” said Moorgate, “but I’m not going.”
“So it’s that bad?” she said. “You’re so infatuated with Eulalie that—”
“I’m just sorry for you,” she said, still with the scornful air. But her voice was not quite steady. “It’s Guy she cares for. Not you. Of course, she liked having two men fighting over her. She’ll like it to get into the newspapers.”
THAT’S HER version, is it?” said Moorgate. “She heard the whole thing. Get going now.”
“I’m not going,” he repeated. “I want to see what happens to Cullen.”
“Nothing’s going to happen to him,” she said, frowning.
“Is he still going to read his new play to you—when he’s able?”
“Why, of course.”
“Miss Horgan,” said Moorgate. “I’m sorry, but I’ll have to smoke. I’m nervous . I’ve got to say something I don’t want to
She stood waiting while he lit a cigarette. “Cullen wants to marry you,” he said, “for your money.”
“You’re wrong. He’s not interested in money. Those artistic people never are.” “I was sitting here, by my window,” Moorgate went on, “meditating, in the dark . . . And I heard him talking to the contessa. He said—very unpleasant things about you.”
She had grown very white.
“He couldn’t!” she cried. “I’ve just . . . tried to help him.”
“He doesn’t appreciate your highminded, high-handed benevolence. I think he’s a cad of the first water and a bogus artist, but I can understand a little how he feels. That bitter resentment.”
“Against me?” she said, resting one hand against the back of a chair. “You mean —you feel like that, too, about me?”
“No,” said Moorgate. “I began to. But not any more. Because, beneath that regal air, you’re nothing but an honest, innocent kid.”
“Me,” she cried, amazed.
“Yes—” he began, when the sound of heavy steps on the cement floor of the garage below startled them both. She seized his arm.
“Charles!” she whispered. “It’s the police! Get into the bedroom. I’ll talk to them. I’ll send them away somehow.”
He looked down at her pale face, her wide eyes, her parted lips. His grey eyes were like steel.
“Moorgate?” bellowed a voice from below.
“Here!” he called.
“Shut up!” he whispered and suddenly caught her in his arms. Her hands grasped his shoulders; she looked and looked into his face.
He lifted her off her feet and carried her into the bedroom, set her down there and closed the door softly on her, just as two policemen came up the stairs.
AT TEN o’clock the next morning Charles Moorgate was bound over to keep the peace and released. It was raining and he had no overcoat and no hat. He strolled out of the court house and paused at the top of the steps. His dark suit and his blue shirt were a little wrinkled, but he had managed to get a shave, and his fair hair was neat, and he was nonchalance itself.
The imported car stood at the curb, with Myrtle at the wheel.
“Hop in.” she said briefly.
She did not look at him as he got in beside her; her lovely profile was stem.
“I couldn’t get you out last night,” she said. “1 tried.”
“Thanks,” said Moorgate. “But I didn’t mind it. It’s all experience.”
“Well, I’ve had enough experience for a while,” she said. “I’m going to close that house tomorrow and go home to Horgansville.” She took a comer neatly, drove fast and steadily along the wet road. “I guess I’m not so smart, after all,” she said. “I got Guy Cullen wrong. I thought he was a sort of genius; not interested in money. It wasn’t that I liked him so much, only I thought he was—sort of wonderful.” She paused. “Why didn’t you just let me find out for myself?” she asked.
“I wish you’d never had to find out.” said Moorgate. “I don’t like to see a nice kid get hurt.”
“I can take it,” she said curtly. “I ought to be used to the idea by this time that my chief attraction is father’s money.” “That’s a cheap idea,” said Moorgate. “A Cullen idea. Everyone in the world isn’t ready to flatter you and cheat you, just for money.”
“I know,” she said. “You’re not like that.”
He glanced at her hastily and looked away again. She turned the car into the driveway and stopped it before the terrace.
“Come in, won’t you?” she asked.
“No, thank you.” said Moorgate.
She jumped out. stood there in the soft rain. She looked straight and proud and angry. But she didn’t go away.
“F.ven if 1 haven’t been—very nice to you,” she said. “I shouldn’t think you’d be so—vindictive.”
“Vindictive isn’t quite the word,” he said. “Fear would be more like it.”
He had got out of the car and stood beside her.
“You needn’t pretend to be afraid of me,” she said.
“Perhaps it’s myself I’m afraid of.”
Her dark lashes were lowered ; the light rain drove in her face, giving her skin an exquisite freshness; then she raised her eyes to his face, those deep blue eyes, soft and misty now.
“Why?” she asked. “Why, Charles?” “That’s why,” he said. “You’re unscrupulous.”
Slowly, reluctantly, she smiled in a way he had never seen before.
“Well ... Do you want the job in father’s factory?” she asked.
“Overalls and a dinner pail?” he said. “The idea being to make a man of me?” “Well ...” she said. “You see . . I think you’re a man already.”
As their eyes met. a queer and most touching shyness seized her; she ran up the steps to the terrace. She looked back at him, and he was standing bareheaded in the rain, looking at her.
“See you in Horgansville!” he called.