“A caller! Of course not. What put that in your head?”
“Because I had one, in that room you say you always occupied. The visitor vanished as soon as I was seen, and the thought occurred to me just now that you might have been the one sought.”
“Perfectly absurd, West. You must have had a night-mare. What did she look like?”
“Oh, I only had a glimpse in the moon-light; resembled a ghost more than anything else.”
“And just about what it was,” with a laugh of relief. “Some dream you better forget about. Come along; they are waiting on us.”
They passed up the steps together; and into the pleasant breakfast room, where the remainder of the company were already gathered. Coolidge was again perfectly at his ease, genially greeting the guests, and had apparently already dismissed the incident from his mind. Evidently even West did not consider it of any serious importance; he had clearly enough not recognized the intruder, and either decided the whole affair a freak of imagination, or else, at the worst, some midnight escapade of a servant. But West’s mind had in reality settled on a point which Coolidge overlooked. He had gained the very information desired. He had carefully refrained from even suggesting the sex of his mysterious visitor. Percival Coolidge knew, without being told, that the caller was a woman. Then he also knew who that woman was.
The morning meal proved delightfully informal, Natalie gracefully presiding, and apparently in the highest spirits. West found his place reserved on her right with Miss Willis next, and, between the two, was kept extremely busy. The Colonel sat directly across the table, with Percival Coolidge just beyond the hostess. No intimation of anything wrong burdened those present, the single servant silently performing his duties to the constant laughing chatter of those about the table. Even Coolidge, somewhat distant at first, yielded finally to the prevailing humour, and joined freely in the conversation. This turned at last to the plans for the day, revealing a variety of desires, which Natalie arranged to gratify. The Colonel and two of the ladies expressed an inclination to attend church, the limousine being offered them for the purpose. Others decided on a match with the racquets, while Coolidge, rather to the surprise of the lady, suggested that Natalie accompany him into the city on a special errand of mercy. At first, amid the ceaseless clatter of tongues, West was unable to grasp the nature of his plea, or her reply, but finally overheard enough to arouse his personal interest, especially when his own name was mentioned in the discussion.
“I was not aware you ever concerned yourself in such matters,” she said soberly. “Is this a particular case?”
“Decidedly so; the man before he died, was in my employ, but I did not learn until late yesterday of the condition in which his family was left. I understand something must be done for them at once. You are always interested in such cases, so I supposed you would accompany me gladly. It is extremely disagreeable duty for me.”