Paris was in one of her gray moods that January afternoon. Everything was gray except the humanity. Emotion never seemed to grow gray in Paris. From her place by the window in Clara’s apartment Katie was looking down into the narrow street, the people passing to and fro. Two men were shaking hands. They would stop, then begin again. They had been doing that for the last five minutes. They seemed to find life a very live thing. So did the femme de menage and her soldier, who also had been standing over there for the last five minutes. Katie did not want to look longer at the femme de menage and her soldier, so she turned her chair a little about and looked more directly at Clara.
Clara was in gray mood, too. Only Clara differed from the streets in that it was the emotion was gray; the robe de chambre was red.
So were Clara’s eyes. “It’s not pleasant, Katie,” she was saying, “having to remain here in Paris for these foggy months—with all one’s friends down on the Riviera.”
“No,” said Katie grimly, “life’s hard.”
Clara’s tears flowed afresh. “I’ve often thought you were hard, Katie. It’s because you’ve never—cared. You’ve never—suffered.”
Katie smiled slightly, again looking out the window at the femme and her soldier, who were as contented with the seclusion offered by a lamp-post as though it were seclusion indeed. As she watched them, “hard” did not seem the precise word for something in Katie’s eyes.
“You see, Katie,” Clara had resumed, as if her woe gave her the right to rebuke Katie for the lack of woe, “you’ve always had everything just the way you wanted it.”
“Just exactly,” said Katie, still looking at the femme de menage.
“Your grandfather left you all that money, and when you want to do a thing all you have to do is do it. What can you know of the real sorrows and hardships of life?”
“What indeed?” responded Katie briskly.
“And your heart has never been touched—and I don’t believe it ever will be,” Clara continued spitefully—Katie seemed so complacent. “You have no real feeling. You’re just like Wayne.”
Katie laughed at that and looked at Clara; then laughed again, and Clara flushed.
“Speaking of Wayne,” said Katie in off-hand fashion, “he’s been made a major.”
She watched Clara as she said it. There were things Katie could be rather brutal about.
“I’m sure that’s very nice,” said the woman who had divorced Wayne.
“Yes, isn’t it? And other things are going swimmingly. One of those things he used to be always puttering over—you may remember, Clara, mentioning, from time to time, those things he used to be puttering around with—has been adopted with a whoop. A great fuss is being made over it. It looks as though Wayne was confronted with something that might be called a future.”