“Oh, no, he was annoyed that day we flirted so outrageously, but I know he would be glad to see you.”
“I had a wonderful time that day, myself.”
“It was fun. Everybody was so at cross purposes.”
“Do I continue the role of old beau?”
“Oh, no. You’ve established yourself with father, so there’s no use in playing up.”
“Old beau exit with regret,” he sighed.
“You’re a nice man, and I’m glad of you.”
“Thanks. Give me Jocelyn’s address before you forget it. Ah, there’s the Professor now,” he added, as he pocketed the card and hastened into the garden.
The rest of the two days they spent in easy companionship. They played tennis, they drove through the woods in an old surrey, Bambi as whip. Then, when the Professor’s early bedtime removed him to the second story, they sat on the moonlit piazza and talked.
The novel had grown into ten chapters. Three instalments had been published, and the public was showing a most flattering interest in it. Strong brought a box of letters for her to read from enthusiastic readers.
“It’s extraordinary how real you make your characters when you are such a novice,” he said to her.
“I tell you I am a photographer. The musician in my story is Jarvis, with a thin disguise. The old fiddler is my father, and the girl is shamelessly ‘me.’”
“Delightfully you,” he corrected her. “Has the Professor or your husband read any of your stories?”
“No. They never read magazines. Jarvis saw the announcement of the prize story, and commented on the use of my name, but I threw him off the scent easily.”
“I don’t see why you don’t ‘fess’ up, now that the thing is an established success.”
“No, not yet. It’s such a lovely secret. I want to wait for just the moment to spring it on them.”
“Couldn’t you invite me in when that moment comes?”
“We’ll see. I may invite the neighbours in, and crown myself with a laurel wreath.”
“I’d rely on your doing it in a novel way.”
“The surest way of being considered eccentric is just to be yourself. So few of us have the nerve.”
They talked late. He told her his plans and hopes for the magazine. He spoke of his people, of his past life, of his preparation for his work, and when the clock finally interrupted with twelve strokes, they arose, nearer friends than ever.
After Strong’s departure Bambi wrote Jarvis to prepare him for the friendly visit:
“You’ll remember Richard Strong, the brother of Maryland and the thirteen sisters? He came to spend the weekend with us, and expressed such disappointment at your absence that I gave him your address so he could look you up. Do be nice to him. I am sure you will like him when you get to know him. He is a fine, sensible fellow. He might find something for you to do on a magazine, if you wanted it. I did not speak to him about it, thinking you could do it best yourself, if you chose to. We had a pleasant two days’ visit—much talk, tennis, drives, and more talk. It seemed to please and rest him, and we enjoyed him greatly. The Professor has taken a great liking to him.