“I thought that was what you did remember,” challenged Jarvis.
“You refer to figures. They, are not details. They are of enormous importance,” began Professor Parkhurst.
“Now, children, let us not trot out the family skeleton. The ’Heavenly Twins’ can talk from now until doomsday tolls on the importance or non-importance of mathematics. It’s as thrilling as modern warfare when they get started, but I can’t afford to let them go, because they get so excited.”
“Luncheon am served, Miss Bambi,” announced Ardelia.
Bambi led the way, with a sigh of relief. If she could only get through with it, and get the happy family out of the way! Jarvis must be punished for bad behaviour, and she set herself to the task at once. She turned her attention wholly upon Mr. Strong. She laughed and shined her eyes at him, referring to the dear, old days in the most shameless manner. She fairly caressed him with her voice, and his devotion capped her own.
The Professor ate his lunch oblivious to the comedy, but Jarvis scarcely touched his. Some new, painful thing was at work in him. He resented it every time this man looked at Bambi. He wanted to knock him down, and order her off to her room. Most of all, he was furious with himself for caring. He had the same instinct which possessed him in New York when he rushed to the club to sweep her out of his life, and so save himself. He determined to leave the moment luncheon was over. She must never know what a bad hour she had given him. Poor, ostrich Jarvis, with his head in the sands!
The luncheon was one of the most amusing events in Richard Strong’s experience, and as for Bambi, she was at her best. She enjoyed herself utterly, until coffee put a period to Act Two.
Mr. Strong’s visit left its impress on all three members of the household. The Professor referred to him as the man with the thirteen sisters, and wished him reinvited to the house. Bambi treasured the day he spent with her as a turning point in her life. Surely new vistas opened up to her as a result of his coming. But to Jarvis the memory of the day was extremely painful. He took Bambi’s punishment very seriously. He conceived Strong to be a former lover whom she welcomed back with affectionate ardour. He knew enough of her odd personality to be totally in the dark as to what she would do if she found herself suddenly in love with Strong. The main difficulty was, however, that he cared what she did—he, Jarvis, the free man! He realized that this was a flag of danger, and he answered the warning by sedulously avoiding Bambi for the next few days. She was too busy with the plans for the book to notice, although she caught him looking at her once or twice in a strange, speculative way. Their peace was broken, however, a few days after Mr. Strong’s famous visit by a letter from the Belasco office, accompanied by the play. Mr. Belasco regretted that the play was not just what he wanted. It had some excellent points, etc., but as he had already arranged for so many productions during the coming season, he felt he could not take on anything more at present. He would be glad to read anything Mr. Jocelyn might submit. Jarvis handed it on to Bambi.