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Page 14 text:
(luess Tommy owes me that tift - tlcjllars, nuisud ' I ' hurston with a chuckle. And I ' m wilhiig to bet another fifty he doesn ' t leave for the (Jrient, or Paris, either, he added as he caught a glimjise of West disappearing into a limousine with the girl. Piut that young man was not so sure as Thurston, for inside the car his intoxication of excitement gave way a little, and he began to fear the consequences of the episode. He wondered, too, at the smoothness of the afifair. The girl asked no puzzling questions. In fact, she seemed to unconsciously tell him all about himself. For instance: And Nancy, is she still your lady love? she inquired. No, burst out Tommy truthfully. He had always hated the name Nancy, anyway. Not Nancy? Then it ' s still Mabel? Wrong again, was Tomm) ' ' s answer, for how could anyone love a Nancy or a Mabel with so fair a creature as this beside him. ' ' No Nancy or Mabel — when then? Her eyes were sparkling mischievously as she asked this question. It ' s — it ' s — Tommy paused. He had alwa) heliexed in love at first sight, l)ut somehow he had never imagined it to be like this. She leaned nearer to him. Do tell me, she begged. Tommy swallowed, ■hy was she wearing violets? Their tantalizingly elusive odor haunted him. Not — not yet, he managed to mumble and was not sure whether he was glad or sorry to find the car stopping. Outside the car there was a moment when he had the opportunity and wild desire to turn and run. The opportunity was gone in a second, but not the desire. In fact, the minute he stepped inside the house he knew he should have obeyed his impulse. Something was wrong; the air vibrated with a strange something which West had not fathomed. He was hoping he felt this because of the jjart he was playing. Hut no, the girl felt it, too; her color had heightened and her eyes were dancing as if she, too, knew something strange. AMun she spoke her words came breathless and expectant. As they entered the drawing-room West looked about i|uickly. He was sure he had heard someone moving about before they entered the room. And, though the room was apparently empty, he could not but feel the presence of others besides the girl and himself. He was certain someone had lieen there, for the chairs were in comfortable disarray, drawn in a group before the fire. Over the back of one chair was thrown a fur, on another a forgotten handkerchief. The girl seemed to sense this something, too, for she glanced searchingly about the room. I en after they were seated she seemed nervous and continued the conversation hesitatingly. A — about your invention? she continued. My what? gasped ' est. Wh ' , (jur inxention, of course, ' clll finally obtained your patent, didn ' t vou :
Page 13 text:
The rest of the w alk tu llu- station was in silence. Thurston looked hopefully about the platform when they arri ed. Railroad stations were generally interesting places. Howe ' er, there was no one but a girl, most uninspiringh- rouged and powdered. When they boarded the train and entered the car Thurston looked about e.xpectantly and was satisfied. There was only one occupant in the train, but that was enough. .She was young and good to look at. The deep mourning outfit which she wore was strangely out of [ilace with her .f outh and fairness. Prett v young and de ilish good-looking for a widow, whisiiered Thurston as he selected the seat behind her. Xow, here might be the story of — He got no further. From the other end of the car came a shrill, Why, Mame, where ' d you blow from? Gee! and look at the duds! All dolled up for a funeral? Xaw, Liz, drawled the fair widow; the Missus ' takin ' ofif her mournin ' an ' — Thurston turned disapjiointedly to West. But that young man was gone. He found him sitting dejectedly in the back of the car. It ' s always that way, Conway, ' est said. Nothing ever as it seems, everything practical and commonplace. Thurston didn ' t answer. His own faith was beginning to Ijc shaken. Maybe West was right. At last they arri ed in New York and were a part of the crowding mass of humanity at the Grand Central Station. A ' est turned to Thurston. Well, old scout. he said, how about that fifty? But Thurston was not listening. est followed the direction of his gaze. There on the edge of the crowd was a girl. .And such a girl ! In a great squirrel cape and dainty turlian, with exquisitely buckled slippers playing hide-and-seek beneath her velvet gown, she was the essence of 3 ' outh and style. As W ' est looked at her he had a strange feeling he would never forget her. Indeed, he wondered how anyone could. For she was the living symbol of romance, with a face that held a thousand dreams. Suddenly he was aware she had caught sight of him and was frantically waving to him. He turned ini|uiringly to Thurston, who said, Go, Tommy, she ' s beckoning to you. But I don ' t know her, cried West. That ' s all right ; we ' re in search of a short story and remember how many times opportunity knocks. Seeing that Thurston was in earnest and remembering the girl, est elbowed his way through the crowd to her. Oh, Cousin Bill, she cried impulsively, I knew I would recognize vou at once — and you knew me, too, didn ' t you? Isn ' t it thrilling to think you ' ve come all the way from Hawaii and we ' ve never seen each other before and vet we recognized each other at once ? Yes, lied Tommy, bravely. Come, the car ' s over here. I ' ll take xou home at once.
Page 15 text:
W ' h) ' — er — yes, but — er — let ' s not talk about that, he said with pretended modesty, and was sure lie saw a smile lurking behind her words as she asked. And your yacht? Sold, he said shortly. Sold it? Oh, what a shame ! What of all those splendid dogs and horses? Sold ' em, too, said West, wishing Cousin Bill hadn ' t so many things to be accounted for. But your last no el? Though you sold it, you surely can tell me about it. His latest novel ! West Winked. Confound Cousin Bill! It was then in the silence that followed West heard someone behind him, and he did what he never would have done if his nerves were not like needle-points. He jumped from his chair and wheeled about. There was nothing behind him but a doorway covered with portieres. He turned apologetically to the girl. She. too, had risen and her face had gone deathly pale. She stood staring at the doorway in a panicky sort of way. ' est turned again and as he did so, the draft from the window moved the portieres backward, revealing six pairs of slippers, kid, satin, and suede, dainty feminine slippers holding six pairs of feet supporting slender ankles. It was more than West could stand. He stepped forward and drew the portieres aside. There was silence for a moment, then a silvery peal of laughter, and West turned to see the girl doubled up on the divan convulsed with laughter. Her outburst was echoed by six other shouts of merriment, and into the room tumbled six girls. est stared at them blankly as they chatted and laughed hysterically. All he could make of the chaos was, Oh, it was wonderful, Mignon ! or How did you do it? until he began to fear for his sanity. Finally the girl got up and came to him. I truly owe you an explanation, she said. You see, we, she indicted the other girls, all belong to a class in short-story writing. Today one of the girls at our meeting announced her intention of going abroad for inspiration. Then the argument arose as to why she need go away for inspiration. Then the bet was made that from here to the station and back one of us could find a story — and — well — I — you — I fell, finished ' est, laughingly. Yes, she agreed, but it was an awfully good fall. You played your part splendidly. I suppose now I owe you an explanation, said ' est, but, he glanced at the other girls, if I m.a}- call some e ening I could explain my part in detail. May I? Yes, granted Mignon, tomorrow evening. The next evening — oh, but what ' s the use. I ' m not going to bore you with the same old story of a side veranda, a June evening, a silver moon and the odor of damp roses, for — well it all happened in the usual way. But I will tell you that Thurston won his fift}- dollars and that two can hunt stories better than one. Row1 ' :na .Sticirly ' 21.
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