“I think it would be most improper, ma’am,” said Turner.
“There’s nothing at all improper about it,” cried Zora, with a flush. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
At Monte Carlo, as all the world knows, there is an Arcade devoted to the most humorously expensive lace, diamond and general vanity shops in the universe, the Hotel Metropole and Ciro’s Restaurant. And Ciro’s has a terrace where there are little afternoon tea-tables covered with pink cloths.
It was late in the afternoon, and save for a burly Englishman in white flannels and a Panama hat, reading a magazine by the door, and Zora and Septimus, who sat near the public gangway, the terrace was deserted. Inside, some men lounged about the bar drinking cocktails. The red Tzigane orchestra were already filing into the restaurant and the electric lamps were lit. Zora and Septimus had just returned from a day’s excursion to Cannes. They were pleasantly tired and lingered over their tea in a companionable silence. Septimus ruminated dreamily over the nauseous entanglement of a chocolate eclair and a cigarette while Zora idly watched the burly Englishman. Presently she saw him do an odd thing. He tore out the middle of the magazine,—it bore an American title on the outside,—handed it to the waiter and put the advertisement pages in his pocket. From another pocket he drew another magazine, and read the advertisement pages of that with concentrated interest.
Her attention was soon distracted by a young couple, man and woman, decently dressed, who passed along the terrace, glanced at her, repassed and looked at her more attentively, the woman wistfully, and then stopped out of earshot and spoke a few words together. They returned, seemed to hesitate, and at last the woman, taking courage, advanced and addressed her.
“Pardon, Madame—but Madame looks so kind. Perhaps will she pardon the liberty of my addressing her?”
Zora smiled graciously. The woman was young, fragile, careworn, and a piteous appeal lay in her eyes. The man drew near and raised his hat apologetically. The woman continued. They had seen Madame there—and Monsieur—both looked kind, like all English people. Although she was French she was forced to admit the superior generosity of the English. They had hesitated, but the kind look of Madame had made her confident. They were from Havre. They had come to Nice to look after a lawsuit. Nearly all their money had gone. They had a little baby who was ill. In desperation they had brought the remainder of their slender fortune to Monte Carlo. They had lost it. It was foolish, but yet the baby came out that day with nine red spots on its chest and it seemed as if it was a sign from the bon Dieu that they should back nine and red at the tables. Now she knew too late that it was measles and not a sign from the bon Dieu at all. But they were