“Zillah!” she demanded peremptorily. “All the year I’ve wanted to know! All the year every other girl in our class has wanted to know! Where did you ever get that picture of the Senior Surgeon? He never gave it to you in the world! He didn’t! He didn’t! He’s not that kind!”
Deeply into Zillah Forsyth’s pale, ascetic cheek dawned a most amazing dimple. “Sort of jarred you girls some, didn’t it,” she queried, “to see me strutting round with a photo of the Senior Surgeon?” The little cleft in her chin showed suddenly with almost startling distinctness. “Well, seeing it’s you,” she grinned, “and the year’s all over, and there’s nobody left that I can worry about it any more, I don’t mind telling you in the least that I—bought it out of a photographer’s show-case! There! Are you satisfied now?”
With easy nonchalance she picked up the picture in question and scrutinized it shrewdly.
“Lord! What a face!” she attested. “Nothing but granite! Hack him with a knife and he wouldn’t bleed but just chip off into pebbles!” With exaggerated contempt she shrugged her supple shoulders. “Bah! How I hate a man like that! There’s no fun in him!” A little abruptly she turned and thrust the photograph into Rae Malgregor’s hand. “You can have it if you want to,” she said. “I’ll trade it to you for that lace corset-cover of yours!”
Like water dripping through a sieve the photograph slid through Rae Malgregor’s frightened fingers. With nervous apology she stooped and picked it up again and held it gingerly by one remotest corner. Her eyes were quite wide with horror.
“Oh, of course I’d like the—picture, well enough,” she stammered. “But it wouldn’t seem—exactly respectful to—to trade it for a corset-cover.”
“Oh, very well,” drawled Zillah Forsyth. “Tear it up then!”
Expeditiously with frank, non-sentimental fingers Rae Malgregor tore the tough cardboard across, and again across, and once again across, and threw the conglomerate fragments into the waste-basket. And her expression all the time was no more, no less, than the expression of a person who would infinitely rather execute his own pet dog or cat than risk the possible bungling of an outsider. Then like a small child trotting with infinite relief to its own doll-house she trotted over to her bureau, extracted the lace corset-cover, and came back with it in her hand to lean across Zillah Forsyth’s shoulder again and watch the men’s faces go slipping off into oblivion. Once again, abruptly without warning, she halted the process with a breathless exclamation.
“Oh, of course this waist is the only one I’ve got with ribbons in it,” she asserted irrelevantly. “But I’m perfectly willing to trade it for that picture!” she pointed out with unmistakably explicit finger-tip.
Chucklingly Zillah Forsyth withdrew the special photograph from its half-completed wrappings.
“Oh! Him?” she said. “Oh, that’s a chap I met on the train last summer. He’s a brakeman or something. He’s a—”