She nodded once at her image in the mirror.
“Well,” she said, “it’s my life, and I’m willing to take the consequences.”
When Mathilde emerged from the subway into the sunlight of City Hall Park, Pete was nowhere to be seen. She had spent several minutes wandering in the subterranean labyrinth which threatened to bring her to Brooklyn Bridge and nowhere else, so she was a little late for her appointment; and yet Pete was not there. He had promised to be waiting for her. This was a more important occasion than the meeting in the museum and more terrifying, too.
Their plans were simple. They were going to get their marriage license, they were going to be married immediately, they were then going to inform their respective families, and start two days later for San Francisco.
Mathilde stared furtively about her. A policeman strolled past, striking terror to a guilty heart; a gentleman of evidently unbroken leisure regarded her with a benevolent eye completely ringed by red. Crowds were surging in and out of the newspaper offices and the Municipal Building and the post office, but stare where she would, she couldn’t find Pete.
She had ten minutes to think of horrors before she saw him rushing across the park toward her, and she had the idea of saying to him those words which he himself had selected as typically wifely, “Not that I mind at all, but I was afraid I must have misunderstood you.” But she did not get very far in her mild little joke, for it was evident at once that something had happened.
“My dear love,” he said, “it’s no go. We can’t sail, we can’t be married. I think I’m out of a job.”
As they stood there, her pretty clothes, the bright sun shining on her golden hair and dark furs and polished shoes, her beauty, but, above all, their complete absorption in each other, made them conspicuous. They were utterly oblivious.
Pete told her exactly what had happened. Some months before he had been sent to make a report on a coal property in Pennsylvania. He had made it under the assumption that the firm was thinking of underwriting its bonds. He had been mistaken. As owners Honaton & Benson had already acquired the majority of interest in it. His report,—she remembered his report, for he had told her about it the first day he came to see her,—had been favorable except for one important fact. There was in that district a car shortage which for at least a year would hamper the marketing of the supply. That had been the point of the whole thing. He had advised against taking the property over until this defect could be remedied or allowed for. They had accepted the report.
Well, late in the afternoon of the preceding day he had gone to the office to say good-by to the firm. He could not help being touched by the friendliness of both men’s manner. Honaton gave him a silver traveling-flask, plain except for an offensive cat’s-eye set in the top. Benson, more humane and practical, gave him a check.