“I was trying to convey to your mind my belief that he may turn out a real man.”
“Oh, Jarvis was a good investment. I knew it at the time. Poor old thing, he’s frightfully lonesome.”
“He ought to come home for a while, on a visit. I am saving several topics for disagreement.”
“No, it’s better for him to stick it out. No human being ever treated Jarvis like this Miss Harper is treating him, and it’s fine for him.”
“Aren’t you rather Spartan, my dear?”
“I am. I have felt all along that I had pushed him overboard before I was sure he could swim. Now I know he can.”
“You may tell him for me that our agreement was for two years, and it holds good.”
“I don’t know what your agreement was, Herr Professor, but if it had money in it, cancel it. I want him to learn that lesson, too.”
“Poor old Jarvis!”
“Don’t you poor old Jarvis me. Remember the abuse you heaped on him when I married him. I want him to be practical!”
The Professor rose and started for the garden.
“It’s your own affair, my dear.”
The outcome of Bambi’s thoughts was a letter to Mr. Strong. She invited him to spend the weekend with her father and herself, to talk over the book and other things. She added that she hoped that he would prepare himself with data about the thirteen sisters, because her father would be primed with questions about them. Mr. Strong’s acceptance came by return mail, and he, himself, followed Saturday morning.
Bambi met him, as on the other occasion, and at sight of his cordial smile she suddenly felt as if he were an old friend.
“I am so glad to see you!” she exclaimed in her impulsive way.
Mr. Strong shook her hand vigorously.
“It’s mutual, I may say,” and he fell into step. “Bless this old town, it’s like——”
“A soporific,” she supplied, and joined his laugh.
“How’s the Professor? And my old friend Jarvis?”
“The Professor is in a quiver of expectation to talk sisters with you.”
“Good! I am ready for him. And Jarvis?”
“Jarvis was the ‘other things’ I asked you here to talk about.”
“He’s in New York.”
“He is? Why didn’t he look me up?”
“He doesn’t like you.”
“He took us seriously the other day?”
“Jealous, is he? That isn’t why he is in New York?”
“Oh, no! He went to sell a play.”
“Belasco refused it?”
“Yes, and two others. The Parkes have it now. They are going to take it.”
“Jarvis may have to stay in the city for some time. He doesn’t know any one. He hates cities. I suspect he is economizing too much to be comfortable. I thought maybe you would look him up—keep an eye on him.”
“I should be delighted to, if you think he doesn’t dislike me too much.”