“Everything was in such a ferment the night you called,” she explained. “Josef was quite beside himself, and I was rushing off somewhere, I remember, and I didn’t get the card until afterward,” again the perfectly frank, sweet look, “but I recall that it gave me pleasure to know you came.”
At dinner Francis found, with some annoyance, that he was placed between Mrs. Dysart and Miss Porter, at the remote end of the table from Katrine, whom he could see at Nick van Rensselaer’s right, showing her dimples and the flash of white teeth and scarlet lips as she told some story of her own.
He noted how easily she was first, so sure of herself and her power, but with a marked deference to the women as well as to the men who courted her attention so openly. “Such considered conduct!” he commented to himself, approvingly.
No chance came to him to talk to Katrine again that night, but, analytical as he was of woman, he could discern no smallest sign that it was by any design of hers, nor that she noted his presence more than that of another. She neither avoided nor sought his glance, and it was not until midnight that he had even a word alone with her.
“I am going to sing,” she said, turning with a pretty smile toward a group in which he was standing.
In a minute he came forward and led her to the piano. “The Serenade,” he said.
Her eyes gleamed through the long lashes as she looked away from him.
“Ah,” she answered, “I seem to have outgrown it!”
AN INTERRUPTED CONFESSION
On the fourth day, because of a nasty twist at polo, the doctor ordered Frank to rest. Coaching and golf had left the house deserted as he lay on the couch in the second hall, thinking of Katrine’s masterly deftness in avoiding him.
“I have never known another woman who could have done it so well,” he thought. “She seems to have neither resentment nor remembrance. It is as though the whole affair had never been. I wonder—”
The noise of a door opening at the far end of the corridor disturbed his reflections, and as though walking into his thought, Katrine came down the hall.
She wore a house-gown of pale blue, low in the neck, with long, flowing sleeves. Under her arm she carried a music-score in regular school-girl fashion, and she was humming to herself as she came.
Frank lay perfectly still; his eyes closed as she approached him.
“I am not going to bid you a good-morning, seeing that I am obliged by doctor’s orders to do it in this position. It doesn’t seem respectful,” he explained.
The surprise, the dimples, the gay, low laugh seemed such a part of her as she paused beside his couch.
“You are ill?” she asked. “Or,” with a twinkle of the wide eyes, “didn’t you want to go on the coaching-party?”
“I took a fall at polo yesterday. I was not at dinner last night. I am flattered at the way you have dwelt upon my absence.”