“Come on, Wally, now let’s see what you can do,” said she, starting off down the slope, while her meek caddy tagged at a respectful distance.
Waldron, thus adjured, teed up and swung at the ball. But the Scotch had by no means steadied his aim. He foozled badly and broke his pet driver, into the bargain. The steel head of it flew farther even than the ball, which moved hardly ten yards.
“Damn!” he muttered, under his breath, choosing another stick and glancing with real irritation at Catherine’s lithe, splendidly poised figure already some distance down the slope.
His second stroke was more successful, nearly equalling hers. But her advantage, thus early won, was not destined to be lost again. And as the game proceeded, Waldron’s temper grew steadily worse and worse.
Thus began, for these two people, an hour destined to be fraught with such pregnant developments—an hour which, in its own way, vitally bore on the great loom now weaving warp and woof of world events.
THE END OF TWO GAMES.
Trivial events sometimes precipitate catastrophies. It has been said that had James MacDonald not left the farm gate open, at Hugomont, Waterloo might have ended otherwise. So now, the rupture between Catherine Flint and Maxim Waldron was precipitated by a single unguarded oath.
It was at the ninth hole, down back of the Terrace Woods bunker. Waldron, heated by exercise and the whiskey he had drunk, had already dismissed the caddies and had undertaken to carry the clubs, himself, hoping—man-fashion—to steal a kiss or two from Catherine, along the edge of the close-growing oaks and maples. But all his plans went agley, for Catherine really made good and beat him, there, by half a dozen strokes; and as her little sphere, deftly driven by the putting-iron gripped in her brown, firm hands, rolled precisely over the cropped turf and fell into the tinned hole, the man ejaculated a perfectly audible “Hell!”
She stood erect and faced him, with a singular expression in those level gray eyes—eyes the look of which could allure or wither, could entice or command.
“Wally,” said she, “did you swear?”
“I—er—why, yes,” he stammered, taken aback and realizing, despite his chagrin, how very poor and unsportsmanlike a figure he was cutting.
“I don’t like it,” she returned. “Not a little bit, Wally. It isn’t game, and it isn’t manly. You must respect me, now and always. I can’t have profanity, and I won’t.”
He essayed lame apologies, but a sudden, hot anger seemed to have possessed him, in presence of this free, independent, exacting woman—this woman who, worst of all, had just beaten him at the game of all games he prided himself on playing well. And despite his every effort, she saw through the veil of sheer, perfunctory courtesy; and seeing, flushed with indignation.