Whereat Miss Atterly laughed more than ever.
“I like you even better when you’re droll,” Miss Atterly informed him.
Something in the way that she said it pleased Midshipman Dalzell so immensely that he began to notice, more than before, what a very fine girl Miss Atterly was. Then, to win her applause, Dan made the mistake of trying to be funny, whereat the girl was extremely kind.
“Dave,” whispered Belle soon after the music had stopped, “I can’t get away from the belief that Dan’s companion is leading him on. See! Dan now looks at her almost adoringly.”
Laura Bentley, too, had noticed Dan’s preoccupation, but she merely smiled within herself. She did not believe that Dan could really be serious where girls were concerned. Now, as Laura’s midshipman partner led her to a seat, and soon left her, Dan, tearing himself away from Miss Atterly, came to remind Laura that his name was written on her card for the next dance.
“Very fine girl I’ve been talking with, Laura,” Dan confided in the straightforward way that he had always used with Miss Bentley, who was such a very old school friend.
“She certainly is very pretty,” Laura nodded.
“And—–er—–distinguished looking, don’t you think?” Dan ventured.
“But I was speaking more of her character—–at least, her disposition. Miss Atterly is highly sympathetic. I wish you’d meet her, Laura.”
“I shall be delighted to do so, Dan.”
“After this dance, then? And I want Belle to meet her, too. Miss Atterly has noticed you both, and was much interested when she learned that you were old school-day friends of mine.”
So, after the music had ceased, Dan escorted Laura over to where Dave and Belle were chatting.
“Belle,” asked Dan in his most direct way, “will you come and be introduced to Miss Atterly?”
“The young lady you’ve been dancing with so much?” Miss Meade inquired. “The tall, stately blonde?”
“Yes,” Dan nodded.
“I shall be glad to meet Miss Atterly. But how about her? Do you think she could stand the shock?”
“Miss Atterly is very anxious to meet you both,” Dalzell assured Belle.
“Take me over and shock her, then,” laughed Belle.
Dan stood gazing about the scene. “I—–I wonder where Miss Atterly is?” Dan mused aloud.
“Oh, I can tell you,” Belle answered. “A moment ago she went through the entrance over yonder.”
“No; an older woman, probably Miss Atterly’s mother, was with her.”
“Oh! Let’s look them up, then, if you don’t mind.”
As Belle rose, taking Dave’s arm, Dan and Laura took the lead.
Just beyond the entrance that Belle had indicated no one else was in sight when the four young friends reached the spot. There was a clump of potted tropical shrubbery at one side.