She stood before him with clenched hands, eyes blazing. “Don’t touch me! Don’t you touch me!” And she left him.
In the hall Nora stopped her to say there were not enough champagne glasses. She made no reply. Champagne glasses—!
She looked after Worth. Then she went to Ann.
“Well, Ann,” she began, her voice high pitched and unsteady, “this is about the limit, isn’t it?”
“Oh Katie,” moaned Ann, “you told me—you told me—you understood. Why, Katie—you must have known there was some one.”
“Oh I knew there was some one, all right,” said Katie, her voice getting higher and higher, her cheeks more and more red—“only I just hadn’t figured, you see, on its being some one I knew! Why how under the sun,” she asked, laughing wildly, “did you ever meet Major Darrett?”
“I—I’ll try to tell you,” faltered Ann miserably. “I want to. I want to make you understand. Katie!—I’ll die if you don’t understand!”
She looked so utterly wretched that Katie made heroic effort to get herself under control—curb that fearful desire to laugh. “I will try,” she said quietly as she could. “I will try.”
“Why, Katie,” Ann began, “does it make so much difference—just because you know him?”
“It makes all the difference! Can’t you see—why it makes it so vulgar.”
Ann threw back her head. “Just the same—it wasn’t vulgar. What I felt wasn’t vulgar. Why, Katie,” she cried appealingly, “it was my Something Somewhere! You didn’t think that vulgar!”
“Oh no,” laughed Katie, “not before I knew it was Major Darrett! But tell me—I’ve got to know now. What is it? Where did you meet him? Just how bad is it, anyhow?”
It must have been desperation led Ann to spare neither Katie nor herself. “I met him,” she said baldly, “one night as I was standing on the corner waiting for a car. He had an automobile. He asked me to get in it—and I did. And that—began it.”
Katie stepped back from her in horror, the outrage she felt stamped all too plainly on her face. “And you call that not vulgar? Why it was common. It was low.”
Then Ann turned. “Was it? Oh I don’t know that you need talk. I wouldn’t say much—if I were you. I guess I saw the look on his face when I came in. Don’t think for a minute I don’t know that look. You got it there. And let me tell you another thing. Just let me tell you another thing! Whatever I did—whatever I did—I know I never had the look you did when I came in! I never had that look of fooling with things!”
Katie was white—powerless—with rage. “You dare speak to me like that!” she choked. “You—!”
And all control gone she rushed blindly from the room.
She had no idea how long she had been walking. She was conscious of being glad that there was so big a place for walking, that walking was not a preposterous thing to be doing. She passed several groups of soldiers. They were reassuring; they looked so much in the natural order of things and gave no sign of her being out of that order.