His interest in the afternoon callers waned. At five o’clock he gave it up. He arranged with his new friend to call her up in the morning to see if she had any news from the front. Then he slowly turned his footsteps toward the club. He was irritated at the long delay, and for the first time aware that there might be more difficulty in seeing managers than he had anticipated. He had thought the condescension all on his part, but eight hours of airing his heels in the outer purlieus had altered his viewpoint a trifle.
His main concern was Bambi’s disappointment. She had sent him out with such high hopes—she would receive him back with his Big Chief feathers drooping. He was sorrier than he would admit to drown the shine in her eyes. He walked downtown to postpone the evil hour, but in the end it had to be faced.
After Jarvis had departed on his conquering way Bambi turned her attention to herself. She made a most careful toilette. When she was hatted, and veiled, and gloved, she tripped up and down before her mirror, trying herself out, as it were. She made several entrances into editorial sanctums. Once she entered haltingly, drawn to her full five-feet-one; once she bounced in, confidently, but she vetoed that, and decided upon a dignified but cordial entrance. One more trip to the mirror for a close inspection.
“Oh, you pretty thing!” she nodded to herself.
She set forth, as Jarvis had done, with the address on the publisher’s letter clasped in her hand. She marched uptown with a singing heart. She saw everything and everybody. She wondered how many of them carried happy secrets, like hers, in their thoughts—how many of them were going toward thrilling experiences. She shot her imagination, like a boomerang, at every passing face, in the hope of getting back secrets that lay behind the masks. She was unaware how her direct gaze riveted attention to her own eager face. She thought the people who smiled at her were friendly, and she tossed them back as good as they gave. Even when a waxed and fashionable old dandy remarked, “Good morning, my dear,” she only laughed. Naturally, he misunderstood, and fell in step beside her.
“Are you alone?” he asked, coyly.
She gave him a direct glance and answered seriously.
“No. I am walking with my five little brothers and sisters.” He looked at her in such utter amazement that she laughed again. This time he understood.
“Good day,” said he, and right-about-faced.
She knew she had plenty of time, so she sauntered into a bookshop and turned over the new books, thinking that maybe some day she would come into such a shop and ask for her own books, or Jarvis’s published plays. She chatted with a clerk for a few minutes, then went back to the avenue, like a needle to a magnet.
In and out of shops she went. She looked at hats and frocks, and touched with envious fingers soft stuffs and laces.