The change in Katie, the life which came back to her eyes, rewarded him.
“I’d go with you to the station,” she said, “only we’re giving a big dinner to-night.”
She thought his face darkened. “Oh yes, I know. But that’s the kind of person I am. We go on with the dinner—no matter what’s happening. It’s—our way.”
He seemed to be considering it as a curious phenomenon. “Yes, I know it is. And you can’t help that either, can you? So you’re going to be very festive in this house to-night?”
“Oh very festive in this house to-night. Some army people are here from Washington. We’re going to have a gorgeous dinner, and I’m going to wear a gorgeous gown and drink champagne and try and smile myself into the good graces of a man who can do things for my brother and be—oh so clever and festive.”
He looked at her as if by different route he had come again to that thing of pitying her; only along this other route the quality of the pity had changed and there was in it now a tender sadness. “It’s not so simple a matter for you, is it—this ‘being free’? You’re of the bound, too, aren’t you? And you’ve become conscious of your chains. There’s all the hope and all the tragedy of it in that.” He took an impulsive step toward her and smiled at her appealingly, a little mistily, as he said: “Only please don’t tell me you’re not going to laugh any more.”
As a matter of fact Katie did laugh a great deal that night. At least it passed for laughter, and the man who was worth cultivating for Wayne seemed to find it most attractive. It was evident to them all that Katie was getting on famously with him.
It was well that she was, for Wayne himself seemed making little headway. Before dinner Katie had told him briefly that Ann had come down with Worth (whose sore throat didn’t seem serious, after all) and then had been called away. She said she couldn’t talk about it then; she would tell him later.
But though they had a quiet host they had a vivid and a brilliant hostess. Those who knew Katie best, Mrs. Prescott in particular, kept watching her in wonderment. She had never known Katie to vie with Zelda Fraser in saying those daring things. Katie, though so merry, had seemed a different type. But to-night Katie and Zelda and Major Darrett kept things very lively.
Katie was telling her distinguished guest the tale of the champagne glasses. “Just fancy,” she said, “here was I, giving a dinner for you—and it looked as if somebody would have to turn teetotaler or drink out of the bottle! After I finally got it straightened out I told Zelda she must keep her hand as much as possible on the stem of her glass so it would not be noted she was drinking from gothic architecture and the rest of us from classic.”
“And you may have observed,” blithely observed Zelda, “that keeping my hand on the stem of my glass is an order I am not loathe to obey—be it any old architecture.”