“Let’s forget South America for to-night,” she said.
He would not, could not, drop the subject. He had been so clumsy in not realizing what it all meant to her; but her news had come as such a surprise. She had seen David Cannon, then, that afternoon?
Yes, he was on his way down to her to settle the date of their concert and to propose this South American scheme. But she need not decide immediately.
He protested that her triumph there would crown him. If he were not a poor young architect attached to his blue prints, he would follow her. As it was, his duller duty lay at home. She caught a flatness of tone, and met it with a vigorous profession of faith in his work. His art was more useful than hers, more enduring. His music was in stone; hers was no greater than the trilling of a bird. He thought this over, moved from her embrace, sat erect, and patted his tie. Well, he summed up, each had a working life converging to a common end. Let her sing Cannon’s songs to South America. Her voice would reach him. Then let her come back quickly. He could not conceive of life without her. It would seem strange to be a bachelor again, he went on, with a sigh meant to be comical. He supposed he would eat at his club when he was not invited out. He hoped her friends would take pity on him.
“You mean our friends,” she corrected.
“You’re the magnet, dear.”
“I attracted you,” she conceded happily. Then, with a start, she said: “Do you know what time it is? And we’re dining with the Wickeses at seven.”
“I never have you to myself any more,” he objected. “If I were an old-fashioned husband, I should be jealous of every one who sees or talks to you.”
“But you’re not an old-fashioned husband,” she reminded him.
“I try not to be.” He had risen from the couch, and was making his way to the door, where he paused to look back at her. “Wear the blue brocade to-night, dear, and do your hair that new way.”
“The way Martigues suggested? I thought you didn’t like it.”
He hesitated only a second.
“It’s a bit extreme,” he had to confess, “but it suits you.”
She came toward him then, laughing.
“You see, you give me over to them.”
“I can afford to,” he said.
They were late, of course, to the dinner. Despite her effort at brightness, Oliver felt her graver mood. He watched her with a shadowy anxiety. Her smile, when her glance sought him out among the chattering guests, did not entirely reassure him. He had never loved her more than this evening when she seemed so removed from him, so easily and brilliantly a guest of honor. What hold had these strangers on her? They could only misread the superficial sparkle of her eyes, the gracious movements of her uncovered neck and arms. He decided then that the blue brocade was too conspicuous. She must not wear it in