“Did Dicky refuse to accompany Grace Draper to her home because of consideration for me, or because he was afraid to trust himself alone with her?”
A VOICE THAT CARRIED FAR
“Ah! Mrs. Graham, this is an unexpected pleasure.”
Dr. Pettit’s eyes looked down into my own with an expression that emphasized the words he had just uttered. His outstretched hand clasped mine warmly, his impressive greeting embarrassed me a bit, and I turned instinctively toward Dicky to see if he had noticed the young physician’s extraordinarily cordial greeting.
But this I had no opportunity to discover, for as I turned, a taxi drew up to the curb where the Underwoods—who had come down to spend the promised week with us—Dicky and I were waiting for the little Crest Haven Beach trolley and Dicky sprang to meet Grace Draper and the Durkees—Alfred Durkee and his mother, who completed our party for the motor boat trip.
“I am very glad to see you, Dr. Pettit,” I murmured conventionally, then hurriedly: “Pardon me a moment, I must greet these guests. I will be back.”
When I turned again to him after welcoming Grace Draper with forced friendliness, and the Durkees with the real warmth of liking I felt for them, I found him talking to Lillian.
Dr. Pettit, it appeared, was waiting for the same car we wished to take, and no one looking at our friendly chatting group would have known that he did not belong to the party.
It was when we were all seated comfortably in the trolley, bowling merrily along over the grass-strewn track, that Lillian voiced a suggestion which had sprung into my own mind, but to which I did not quite know how to give utterance.
“Look here,” she said brusquely, “I’m not the hostess of this party, but I’m practically one of the family, so I feel free to issue an invitation if I wish. Dr. Pettit, what’s the matter with you joining our party for the day? Dicky here has been howling for another man to help lug the grub all morning. Unless you are set on a solitary day that man ‘might as well be you’”—she punctuated the parody with a mocking little moue.
I had a sneaking little notion that Dicky would have been glad of the opportunity to box Lillian’s ears for her suggestion. I do not think he enjoyed the idea of adding Dr. Pettit to the party, but, of course, in view of what she had said there was nothing for him to do but to pretend a cordial acquiescence in her suggestion.
“That’s the very thing,” he said, with a heartiness which only I, and possibly Lillian, could dream was assumed. “Lil, you do occasionally have a gleam of human intelligence, don’t you?
“I do hope that you have no plan that will interfere with coming with us,” he said to the physician. “We have a big boat chartered down here at the beach, and we’re going to loaf along out to one of the ’desert islands’ and camp for the day.”