“Be of good cheer, Comrade. Even the memory of bitter fights grows dim. I will not think of you as daunted by anything life can offer. No, nor death. Why have I this confidence in you, I wonder?
“THE LADY OF MYSTERY.”
The day this letter came to Jarvis marked a change in him to Bambi’s watchful eye. He threw himself with renewed ardour into the work. For the first time in many days they walked together, and he seemed more himself than he had been since Strong’s unfortunate visit. Was it the effect of this letter? He was beginning to be easily influenced by this supposed stranger! The idea was too fantastic.
“What kind of a woman do you imagine the author of ‘Francesca’ to be?” she asked him as they trudged along a wintry road. He started a little, she thought.
“I scarcely know,” he evaded. “I always think of her as tall and thin and frail, with a rather sad face, white, with humorous gray eyes, and a sensitive mouth.”
“I always think of her as little and fat and cuddly.”
“Oh, not cuddly!” he protested.
“Any news from her lately?”
“Yes. I had a letter to-day.”
“Did you ask if she was coming to rehearsals?”
“Haven’t you any curiosity about her?”
“In a way, yes. But I respect her desire in the matter.”
“I don’t. If I could get it out of Richard Strong who she is, I’d go look her up in a minute.”
“Have you tried?” eagerly.
“He won’t tell. He’s the King of Clams.”
“He has no right to tell.”
“It is very smart of her to work up all this mystery about herself. No doubt she is a wobbly old fatty, instead of the Beatrice you think her.”
He made no answer, but she saw by his face how he resented it.
A wicked design grew in Bambi’s mind. She would make Jarvis Jocelyn fall so desperately and hopelessly in love with this dream-woman of his that she would be revenged upon him for the way he had shut her out since Strong’s visit. It never once occurred to her that it was a hurt she had given him which drove him to this other woman. But the something which he had offered her the night of his return he had deliberately withdrawn, before she had a chance to accept or refuse it. Well, here was a chance to punish him and she would take it.
From the day of her resolve absolute impersonality characterized their relations during Work hours. Sometimes they walked together; sometimes Bambi went alone or made visits to her friends. Jarvis felt more and more her withdrawal from him. He attributed it to her increased affection for Strong and a consequent abhorrence of her husband’s presence.
One morning she announced that she was going to New York for the day.