“I am so proud of you that I am imbecile. Let us go home.”
Richard shook both her hands in silent congratulation.
“Where is Jarvis?” asked her father.
A search failed to find him. Richard made a trip back on the stage, but he was not there.
“We won’t wait, if you will put us into our cab,” Bambi said to him.
He saw them all off, promising to send Jarvis along if he saw him.
“What do you suppose became of him?” demanded the Professor.
But Bambi did not answer. All the triumph of the evening counted for nothing to her now. Jarvis had been hurt or angered at her revelation. He had deliberately gone off and left her, regardless of appearances. She spent the night in anxious listening for his return, but morning found his rooms vacant, his bed untouched. Bambi’s heart misgave her.
Jarvis was never sure what happened to him after he came off the stage with Bambi. Something had exploded in his brain, and his only thought was to get away, away from all the noisy, chattering, hand-shaking people, to some quiet place, where he could think.
On the way back to the box in Bambi’s train, he had been separated from her a minute, long enough to spy the stage door, to slip out and away. He headed uptown without design, walking, walking, at a furious pace. Bambi, herself, was the Lady of Mystery to whom he had offered his devotions. The thing which hurt him was that she had tricked him into declaring himself, probably laughed at his ardour. It made him rage to think of it. What had been her object? He could not decipher her riddle at all. If she wanted his love, she might have had it for the taking, without all this play-acting nonsense. These was no use in his ever expecting to understand her or her motives. He might as well give it up and be done with it.
He built up the whole story, bit by bit. Her mysterious trips to town were in regard to the book, of course. The “butter-’n’-eggs” money came from royalties. Strong had published the story in his magazine: hence their intimacy. His thought attacked this idea furiously, then he remembered Bambi’s words, “I love Richard Strong as my good friend, and in no other way.”
There was no doubting the sincerity of that declaration. Besides, Bambi never lied. She had not deceived him, then, with any deliberate plan to alienate his affections so that she could be free to go to Strong. No light along that line of questioning.
He went on, feeling his way, step by step, to the point of the dramatization of the book. Here he paused long. Surely he had not been her dupe here. He was Frohman’s choice as dramatist. But was he? She and Frohman had come to some understanding, because she had gone to see him the day the play was delivered. No, that could not be, for he found her at home when he returned.