“It is strange that Kestrel doesn’t see money in this,” said Mr. Yorke, with a twinkle in his eye; “for he usually sees money in everything. I guess there were other reasons than want of progress for the Wickershams not paying dividends.”
A few days later Norman informed Keith that the money was nearly all subscribed; but Keith did not know until afterwards how warmly he had indorsed him.
“You said something about sheep the other day; well, a sheep is a solitary and unsocial animal to a city-man with money to invest. My grandfather’s man used to tell me: ’Sheep is kind of gregarious, Mr. Norman. Coax the first one through and you can’t keep the others out.’ Even Kestrel is jumping to get in.”
Keith had not yet met Mrs. Lancaster. He meant to call on her before leaving town; for he would show her that he was successful, and also that he had recovered. Also he wanted to see her, and in his heart was a lurking hope that she might regret having lost him. A word that Mrs. Wentworth had let fall the first evening he dined there had kept him from calling before.
A few evenings later Keith was dining with the Norman Wentworths, and after dinner Norman said:
“By the way, we are going to a ball to-night. Won’t you come along? It will really be worth seeing.”
Keith, having no engagement, was about to accept, but he was aware that Mrs. Wentworth, at her husband’s words, had turned and given him a quick look of scrutiny, that swept him from the top of his head to the toe of his boot.
He had had that swift glance of inspection sweep him up and down many times of late, in business offices. The look, however, appeared to satisfy his hostess; for after a bare pause she seconded her husband’s invitation.
That pause had given Keith time to reflect, and he declined to go. But Norman, too, had seen the glance his wife had given, and he urged his acceptance so warmly and with such real sincerity that finally Keith yielded.
“This is not one of the balls,” said Norman, laughingly. “It is only a ball, one of our subscription dances, so you need have no scruples about going along.”
Keith looked a little mystified.
“Mrs. Creamer’s balls are the balls, my dear fellow. There, in general, only the rich and the noble enter—rich in prospect and noble in title—”
“Norman, how can you talk so!” exclaimed Mrs. Wentworth, with some impatience. “You know better than that. Mrs. Creamer has always been particularly kind to us. Why, she asks me to receive with her every winter.”
But Norman was in a bantering mood. “Am not I rich and you noble?” he laughed. “Do you suppose, my dear, that Mrs. Creamer would ask you to receive with her if we lived two or three squares off Fifth Avenue? It is as hard for a poor man to enter Mrs. Creamer’s house as for a camel to pass through the needle’s eye. Her motions are sidereal and her orbit is as regulated as that of a planet.”