“Mais, non!” M. Jules handed her her muff with a quick, sympathetic glance. He followed her out through the carpeted show-room, now closed to the public and draped in cheesecloth, and put her into her car with words appreciative of the honour she had done him in calling.
Leaning back in the cushions, Eden Bower closed her eyes, and her face, as the street lamps flashed their ugly orange light upon it, became hard and settled, like a plaster cast; so a sail, that has been filled by a strong breeze, behaves when the wind suddenly dies. Tomorrow night the wind would blow again, and this mask would be the golden face of Aphrodite. But a “big” career takes its toll, even with the best of luck.
I first became aware that Cressida Garnet was on board when I saw young men with cameras going up to the boat deck. In that exposed spot she was good-naturedly posing for them—amid fluttering lavender scarfs—wearing a most unseaworthy hat, her broad, vigorous face wreathed in smiles. She was too much an American not to believe in publicity. All advertising was good. If it was good for breakfast foods, it was good for prime donna,—especially for a prima donna who would never be any younger and who had just announced her intention of marrying a fourth time.
Only a few days before, when I was lunching with some friends at Sherry’s, I had seen Jerome Brown come in with several younger men, looking so pleased and prosperous that I exclaimed upon it.
“His affairs,” some one explained, “are looking up. He’s going to marry Cressida Garnet. Nobody believed it at first, but since she confirms it he’s getting all sorts of credit. That woman’s a diamond mine.”
If there was ever a man who needed a diamond mine at hand, immediately convenient, it was Jerome Brown. But as an old friend of Cressida Garnet, I was sorry to hear that mining operations were to be begun again.
I had been away from New York and had not seen Cressida for a year; now I paused on the gangplank to note how very like herself she still was, and with what undiminished zeal she went about even the most trifling things that pertained to her profession. From that distance I could recognize her “carrying” smile, and even what, in Columbus, we used to call “the Garnet look.”
At the foot of the stairway leading up to the boat deck stood two of the factors in Cressida’s destiny. One of them was her sister, Miss Julia; a woman of fifty with a relaxed, mournful face, an ageing skin that browned slowly, like meerchaum, and the unmistakable “look” by which one knew a Garnet. Beside her, pointedly ignoring her, smoking a cigarette while he ran over the passenger list with supercilious almond eyes, stood a youth in a pink shirt and a green plush hat, holding a French bull-dog on the leash. This was “Horace,”