“Possibly you would prefer me to lunch out, too,” said Jarvis, pointedly.
“Not at all. I want you both here,” said Bambi, with irritation, closing the incident. She had a feeling that she had not handled the situation as well as she had planned to do.
Thursday, and Mr. Strong arrived with the inevitableness of dreaded events. Bambi felt convinced that his coming meant the premature death of her new-born career, so, naturally, she was prepared for grief. An element of amusement was added, however, by Jarvis’s astonishing behaviour. Ever since the first mention of Mr. Strong’s name he had shown unmistakable signs of dislike for that gentleman. ’It was the most remarkable revelation of his strange character. Having totally ignored Bambi himself, it distressed him to think of any other man being attracted by her. His references to Mr. Strong’s coming were many and satirical. This display of manly inconsistency was nuts and ale to Bambi. She wondered how much Mr. Strong would play up, and she decided to give Jarvis Jocelyn an uncomfortable hour. She herself was an adept in amatory science, but she was a trifle unsure of Mr. Strong. However, she remembered a certain twinkle in his eye that augured well.
Because it was necessary to enlighten him as to the situation in advance, she arrayed herself most carefully to go and meet him. She encountered Jarvis on the stairs. He inspected her charming self, in a frock the colour of spring green leaves, topped by a crocus-coloured hat, like a flower. She deliberately pranced before him.
“Aren’t I a delight to the eye?”
He stared at her coldly.
“Such ardent admiration embarrasses me, Jarvis,” she protested.
“You look very nice,” he admitted.
“Nice! Nice! I look like a daffodil, or a crocus, or some other pleasant spring beauty.”
“I am glad you are so pleased with yourself. I trust Strong will be equally appreciative.”
“I hope so when I have gone to so much trouble for him,” she tossed back over her shoulder, in punishment.
As Mr. Strong stepped off the train and faced her, it would be hard to say whether admiration or astonishment constituted the greater part of his expression.
“Mrs. Jocelyn, why this is too kind of you!”
“Not at all. City people are so unused to our devious country ways that I was afraid you would get lost.”
Admiration was certainly on top now.
“If you don’t mind, we will walk. It isn’t far.”
“The farther the better,” he replied gallantly.
They set forth, down the shady village street, where the trees almost met overhead. Strong drew in deep breaths of the fresh morning air. His eyes kept returning to the little French figure at his side, so metropolitan, and yet so much the dominant note in any setting in which he had seen her. She chattered on, about the town, the university, and the sights.