Perfectly unreluctantly Rae Malgregor dropped the fluff of lace and ribbons into Zillah’s lap and reached out with cheerful voraciousness to annex the young man’s picture to her somewhat bleak possessions. “Oh, I don’t care a rap who he is,” she interrupted briskly. “But he’s sort of cute-looking, and I’ve got an empty frame at home just that odd size, and Mother’s crazy for a new picture to stick up over the kitchen mantelpiece. She gets so tired of seeing nothing but the faces of people she knows all about.”
Sharply Zillah Forsyth turned and stared up into the younger girl’s face, and found no guile to whet her stare against.
“Well of all the ridiculous—unmitigated greenhorns!” she began. “Well—is that all you wanted him for? Why, I supposed you wanted to write to him! Why, I supposed—”
For the first time an expression not altogether dollish darkened across Rae Malgregor’s garishly juvenile blondeness.
“Maybe I’m not quite as green as you think I am!” she flared up stormily. With this sharp flaring-up every single individual pulse in her body seemed to jerk itself suddenly into conscious activity again like the soft, plushy pound-pound-pound of a whole stocking-footed regiment of pain descending single file upon her for her hysterical undoing. “Maybe I’ve had a good deal more experience than you give me credit for!” she hastened excitedly to explain. “I tell you—I tell you I’ve been engaged!” she blurted forth with a bitter sort of triumph.
With a palpable flicker of interest Zillah Forsyth looked back across her shoulder. “Engaged? How many times?” she asked quite bluntly.
As though the whole monogamous groundwork of civilization was threatened by the question, Rae Malgregor’s hands went clutching at her breast. “Why, once!” she gasped. “Why, once!”
Convulsively Zillah Forsyth began to rock herself to and fro. “Oh Lordy!” she chuckled. “Oh Lordy, Lordy! Why I’ve been engaged four times just this past year!” In a sudden passion of fastidiousness she bent down over the particular photograph in her hand and snatching at a handkerchief began to rub diligently at a small smouch of dust in one corner of the cardboard. Something in the effort of rubbing seemed to jerk her small round chin into almost angular prominence. “And before I’m through,” she added, at least two notes below her usual alto tones, “And before I’m through—I’m going to get engaged to—every profession that there is on the surface of the globe!” Quite helplessly the thin paper skin of the photograph peeled off in company with the smouch of dust. “And when I marry,” she ejaculated fiercely, “and when I marry—I’m going to marry a man who will take me to every place that there is—on the surface of the globe! And after that—!”
“After what?” interrogated a brand new voice from the doorway.