It was astonishing how Ann seemed to find herself in just that thing of being able to learn to play golf.
They were gay at dinner that night, and Ann was as gay as any one. She continued to talk about her game, which they jestingly permitted her to do, and the men told some good golf stories which she entered into merrily. It was Katie who was rather quiet. While they still lingered around the table Fred Wayneworth joined them, and Katie, eager to talk with him of his people and his work, left Ann alone with Wayne and Captain Prescott, something which up to that time she had been reluctant to do. But to-night she did not feel Ann clinging to her, calling out to her, as she had felt her before. She seemed on surer ground; it was as if golf had given her a passport. From her place in the garden with her cousin, Ann’s laugh came down to them from time to time—just a girl’s happy laugh.
“Who is your stunning friend, Katie?” Fred asked. “No, stunning doesn’t fit her, but lovely. She is lovely, isn’t she?”
“Ann’s very pretty,” said Kate shortly.
“Oh—pretty,” he laughed, “that won’t do at all. So many girls are pretty, and I never saw any girl just like her.”
Again she was vaguely uneasy, and the uneasiness irritated her, and then she was ashamed of the irritation. Didn’t she want poor Ann to have a good time—and feel at home—and be admired? Did she care for her when she was somber and shy, and resent her when happy and confident? She told herself she was glad to hear Ann laughing; and yet each time the happy little laugh stirred that elusive foreboding in the not usually apprehensive soul of Katie Jones.
“I want to tell you about my girl, Katie,” her cousin was saying. “I’ve got the only girl.”
He was off into the story of Helen: Helen, who was a clerk in the forest service and “put it all over” any girl he had ever known before, who was worth the whole bunch of girls he had known in the East—girls who had been brought up like doll-babies and had doll-baby brains. Didn’t Katie agree that a girl who could make her own way distanced the girls who could do nothing but spend their fathers’ money?
In her heart, Katie did; had she been defending Fred to his father, the Bishop, or to his Bostonian mother, she would have grown eloquent for Helen. But listening to Fred, it seemed something was being attacked, and she, unreasonably enough, instead of throwing herself with the aggressor was in the stormed citadel with her aunt and uncle and the girls with the doll-baby brains.
And she had been within the citadel that afternoon when Wayne was attacking the army. She gloried in attacks of her own, but let some one else begin one and she found herself running for cover—and to defense. She wondered if that were anything more meaningful than just natural perversity.