“Nobody has ever objected before. I always wash the tub,—and, anyhow, he’s cleaner than most people.”
“Cleaner than me?” her eyebrows went up, her white arms and neck and her fragrant person seemed to scream at him like a band of outraged nymphs. Something flashed through his mind about a man who was turned into a dog, or was pursued by dogs, because he unwittingly intruded upon the bath of beauty.
“No, I didn’t mean that,” he muttered, turning scarlet under the bluish stubble of his muscular jaws. “But I know he’s cleaner than I am.”
“That I don’t doubt!” Her voice sounded like a soft shivering of crystal, and with a smile of pity she drew the folds of her voluminous blue robe close about her and allowed the wretched man to pass. Even Caesar was frightened; he darted like a streak down the hall, through the door and to his own bed in the corner among the bones.
Hedger stood still in the doorway, listening to indignant sniffs and coughs and a great swishing of water about the sides of the tub. He had washed it; but as he had washed it with Caesar’s sponge, it was quite possible that a few bristles remained; the dog was shedding now. The playwright had never objected, nor had the jovial illustrator who occupied the front apartment,—but he, as he admitted, “was usually pye-eyed, when he wasn’t in Buffalo.” He went home to Buffalo sometimes to rest his nerves.
It had never occurred to Hedger that any one would mind using the tub after Caesar;—but then, he had never seen a beautiful girl caparisoned for the bath before. As soon as he beheld her standing there, he realized the unfitness of it. For that matter, she ought not to step into a tub that any other mortal had bathed in; the illustrator was sloppy and left cigarette ends on the moulding.
All morning as he worked he was gnawed by a spiteful desire to get back at her. It rankled that he had been so vanquished by her disdain. When he heard her locking her door to go out for lunch, he stepped quickly into the hall in his messy painting coat, and addressed her.
“I don’t wish to be exigent, Miss,”—he had certain grand words that he used upon occasion—“but if this is your trunk, it’s rather in the way here.”
“Oh, very well!” she exclaimed carelessly, dropping her keys into her handbag. “I’ll have it moved when I can get a man to do it,” and she went down the hall with her free, roving stride.
Her name, Hedger discovered from her letters, which the postman left on the table in the lower hall, was Eden Bower.