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As they watched her drive away in the brougham that was waiting for her, accompanied by the man who never had to work, they could scarcely believe that she was not what she looked at that distance—a girl of little more than twenty. canada goose coat red canada goose coat red “And will you forgive me the big confession?”Outside the bedroom door Vashti took his face between her hands. “Thank God, there are good men in the world.” He waited for Desire. All tenderness had become a trap. She nodded to him sullenly, “Good-night.” Then, flam-ing up, “Fluffy’s right. All men are beasts, I expect.”

The curtain had risen only a few minutes, when he realized why she had brought him. From the wings Tom entered; from that moment she became spellbound. Teddy tried to reason away his jealousy—his feeling that he had been trapped into coming. It was quite natural that she should have wanted to see her friend—there was nothing so disastrous in that. But—— And he couldn’t get over that but. It would have been fair to have warned him.“I wish you’d tell me. Of course Desire wrote me; but I don’t know much.”He had a curious feeling of impropriety in discussing Desire with her mother. It was a stupid feeling to have just because, long ago, he had given Vashti his boyish affection. Yet instinctively he felt that he might rouse her jealousy if he laid too much stress on his change of homage. Was that why she was evading him? How much did she know of what had happened? He began to skirmish for information. canada goose coat red CHAPTER XXIII—TEDDY AND RUDDY“Be married to-day? You said ‘some day’ when you promised.”Without looking at him she asked a question. “Why do you beat about the bush? Last night you had something on your mind that you wouldn’t tell. This morning it’s worse. What makes you so timid? I’m only a girl.”Silence.“It’s in nearly the next street, Teddy.”“Oh, ’ere it is. You’re learnin’ h’all me secrets, dearie. It ain’t wise. But, Lawd, ‘cause yer likes it and ter show yer ‘ow glad I am ter be wiv yer——” canada goose coat red She broke from him and ran up the steps. As she crossed the threshold she let her cloak slip from her. He saw again for one fleeting moment her sandaled feet and her pageant costume.Under the roof of the woods all was blackness. The sounds of travel grew fainter. When he reached the meadows beyond, there was nothing but the mist of moonlight on still shadows—he heard nothing but the sullen weeping of rain-wet trees and grass. He threw himself down beside the road, clenching his hands and sobbing.He had spent so long in listening and waiting that listening and waiting had become a habit. He would hear the telephone tinkle soon. His heart would fly up like a bird into his throat. Her voice would steal to him across the distance: “Meester Deek, hulloa! What are we going to do this morning?” He often heard it in imagination. He could not bear to believe that at last his leisure was his own—that suspense was at once and forever ended.“Not a sound. Listen!”While he was laughing at this sudden change of personality, she commenced searching her vanity-case with sham feverishness; to his amazement she drew out the missing decoration. canada goose coat red She jerked up her head defiantly. “In love! Yus, I’m in love. And ’oo isn’t?”So she’d been out with another man! While he had been waiting, almost counting the seconds, she’d been out with another man! They’d been driving through the darkness together. Perhaps they’d been making love. No wonder she hadn’t answered his letters or cables. “Come to America if you really care.” She had said it lightly and forgotten. It had meant nothing to her. And here he’d been finding delicate excuses to explain what was no more than indifference.“I’m sorry, sir. I wonder she didn’t tell you. You must have spokes with her the last minute before she left. She caught the nine o’clock boat-train from Charing Cross to Dover.”She had gone too far with her evasions. Snuggling closer, their shoulders touching, she bent across him till their eyes met.“Sailing Christmas Eve. ’Mauretania”“If you would only let me kiss you,” he pleaded.His last chance! Dared he trust himself?He felt like a kite, straining toward the clouds, which the hand of a child was dragging down to earth. Her voice uttered prose, but her eyes smiled poetry. She seemed to be repeating disenchanted phrases which she had borrowed without comprehending. Every time he looked at her she inspired him to flights; but she refused to follow him herself. Because of that he fell silent.