“But we were to work on the big climax to-day,” Jarvis protested.
“You work at it. You can do it without me,” she said, airily.
“You are as tired of the play as you are of me,” said Jarvis earnestly.
“Absurd. I am much interested in the play and I am not tired of you.”
“Shall you see Strong?”
“Yes. I shall spend part of the day with him. Did you wish to send him a message?”
“It wouldn’t be fit for you to carry,” he answered, fiercely.
“Richard is not your favourite companion, is he?” she tantalized.
“He is not!”
“Sorry. I am very fond of him.”
“That does not need saying.”
“I have never tried to disguise it.”
“No, I should say you were both frank about it.”
“Why shouldn’t we be, Jarvis?” said Bambi with irritation.
“Exactly. Why shouldn’t you be?”
“You naturally cannot expect to regulate or choose my friends.”
“I expect nothing.”
“Then I would be obliged to you if you made your dislike of my friend a trifle less conspicuous.”
“If you will let me know when he is expected, I will always go elsewhere.”
It was the first hint of disagreement that had ever occurred between them, and Bambi took the train to New York with a disagreeable taste in her mouth. She was going for a conference with Strong about the book, which had got a splendid start in the holiday sales. He had some plans to feature it in various conspicuous ways, so that it might advertise the play.
Arrived in Grand Central Station, she wired Jarvis, “Sorry was horrid about Strong,” just to make her self-esteem less flat. Then she went to Strong’s office. He greeted her in his cordial way, only his eyes admitting his joy at sight of her.
“It is good to see you,” he said.
“You won’t like me. I’m utterly detestable to-day. I was nasty to Jarvis, and cross with Ardelia.”
“I can’t imagine you either nasty or cross.”
“Me? Oh, I scratch and spit and bite!”
“You are the most human person I ever encountered,” he laughed.
“Be nice to me, and I may cheer up.”
“I shall try. I have news about the sale of the book that ought to cheer a tombstone. I think we have a best-seller on our hands.”
“I’m not a bit ashamed of it.”
“Why should you be?”
“Aren’t you a literary pariah, if you’re a best-seller?”
“How is the play coming on?”
“Pretty well, I think. We’re up to the climax of the second act. Jarvis is working on it to-day.”
“Still no suspicion of you?”
“Not a grain. I think he’s falling in love with the author of ‘Francesca,’ though.”
“Through their letters.”
“You certainly have a talent for comedy,” he laughed, and added, gravely, “I thought Jocelyn had always been in love with the author of ’Francesca’?”