Dr. Blake remained sitting, his head dropped in depression on his breast. Rosalie stooped to pat it with a motherly gesture.
“Just remember this,” she said, “you love her and she loves you or I miss my guess, an’ there ain’t no beatin’ that combination. If I was fakin’ with you I wouldn’t need no more than that to make me see your two names in a ring. And remember this, too, boy! There never was anything that turned out just the way you expected. You figure on it twenty ways. It always beats you; and yet when you look back, you say, ‘Of course; what a fool I was.’ Good-by, boy—here next Tuesday at three unless I tell you different by letter.” Rosalie was gone.
Dr. Blake walked in the park that night until dawn broke over the city roofs. And he drew out a dull and anxious existence,—shot and broken with whims, fancies, all the irregularities of a lover,—during the week in which he awaited Rosalie’s next report.
THE FISH NIBBLES
Quietly, naturally, giving a preliminary word of direction to the maid as she lifted the portieres, Mrs. Markham entered the drawing room. Pricking with a sense of impatience, tinctured by nervousness over his own folly, Robert H. Norcross awaited her there. She stood a moment regarding him; in that moment, the quick perception, veiled away by an expression of thought, to which the railroad baron owed so much, took her all in. Superficially, he saw a tall woman, approaching fifty, but still vigorous and free from over-burdening flesh.
“Good evening; I am glad to see you,” she said quietly. She had a low voice and pleasing. He remembered then that he had failed to rise, so intent had he been on her face; and he got to his feet in some embarrassment. As she approached him, his mind, going from detail to detail, noticed her powerful head, her Grecian nose, rising without indentation from a straight forehead, her firm but pleasant mouth, her large, light gray eyes which looked a little past him. Here was a person on his own level of daring mental flight. He remembered only one other woman who had struck him with the force of this one. That other was an actress, supreme in her generation not so much for temperament as for mind. As he looked over a reception crowd at her, intellect had spoken to intellect; they had known each other. So Paula Markham struck him on first sight.
He was about to speak, but she put in her word first.
“Do you come personally or professionally? I had an engagement for an unknown visitor on professional business. Are you he? For if you are, it would be better for you not to tell me your name—I am Mrs. Markham.”
“I came professionally,” he said. He paused. The manner of Norcross, on all first meetings, was timid and hesitating. It was one of his unconscious tricks. Because of that timidity, new-comers, in trying to put him at his ease revealed themselves to his shrewd observation. But there was a real embarrassment at this meeting. He was approaching the subject which had lain close to his imagination ever since three days ago, when Bulger said carelessly that a woman had given him the address of the best spook medium in the business.