“Say, where is Sylvanus Power these days?” Mr. Fink enquired.
“In Honolulu, when last I heard,” Elizabeth replied lightly, “but then one never knows really where he is.”
Philip became naturally the central figure of the little gathering. Mr. Fink was anxious to arrange a little dinner, to introduce him to some fellow workers. Noel Bridges insisted upon a card for the Lambs Club and a luncheon there. Philip accepted gratefully everything that was offered to him. It was no good doing things by halves, he told himself. The days of his solitude were over. Even when, after the departure of his guests, he glanced for a moment into the anteroom beyond and remembered those few throbbing moments of suspense, they came back to him with a curious sense of unreality—they belonged, surety, to some other man, living in some other world!
“You are happy?” Elizabeth murmured, as she took his arm and they waited in the portico below for her automobile.
He had no longer any idea of telling her of that disquieting visit. The touch of her hair blown against his cheek, as he had helped her on with her cloak, something in her voice, some slight diffidence, a queer, half expostulating look in the eyes that fell with a curious uneasiness before his, drove every thought of future danger out of his mind. He had at least the present! He answered without a moment’s hesitation.
“For the first time in my life!”
She gave the chauffeur a whispered order as she stepped into the car.
“I have told him to go home by Riverside Drive,” she said, as they glided off. “It is a little farther, and I love the air at this time of night.”
He clasped her fingers—suddenly felt, with the leaning of her body, her heart beating against his. With that wave of passion there was an instant and portentous change in their attitudes. The soft protectiveness which had sometimes seemed to shine out of her face, to envelop him in its warmth, had disappeared. She was no longer the stronger. She looked at him almost with fear, and he was electrically conscious of all the vigour and strength of his stunted manhood, was master at last of his fate, accepting battle, willing to fight whatever might come for the sake of the joy of these moments. She crept into his arms almost humbly.
The success of “The House of Shams” was as immediate and complete as was the social success of its author. After a few faint-hearted attempts, Philip and Elizabeth both agreed that the wisest course was to play the bold game—to submit himself to the photographer, the interviewer, and, to some judicious extent, to the wave of hospitality which flowed in upon him from all sides. He threw aside, completely and utterly, every idea of leading a more or less sheltered life. His photograph was in the Sunday newspapers and the magazines. It was