“Things of that kind make an impression on a new-comer,” Sylvia languidly remarked. “One gets used to them after a while. Did he say anything else?”
“There was an enthusiastic description of a girl he has met; he declares she’s a paragon. This, of course, is nothing new, but it’s a little astonishing that he doesn’t seem to contemplate making love to her in his usual haphazard manner. She seems to have inspired him with genuine respect.”
“I can’t think of any girl who’s likely to do so.”
“He gives her name—Flora Grant.”
Sylvia betrayed some interest.
“I knew her—I suppose she is a little less impossible than the rest. But go on.”
“One gathers that George is having an anxious time; Edgar goes into some obscure details about crops and cattle-raising. Then he hints at some exciting adventures they have had as a result of supporting a body that’s trying to close the hotels.”
This was what Sylvia had been leading up to. She agreed with Herbert that it was most unlikely George would take any part in such proceedings without some prompting, and she was curious to learn who had influenced him.
“There was a word or two in Herbert’s letter to the same effect,” she said. “The thing strikes one as amusing. George, of course, does not explain why he joined these people.”
A smile of rather malicious satisfaction crept into Ethel’s eyes. “According to Edgar, it was because his neighbors, the Grants, urged it. The father of the girl he mentioned seems to be a leader in the movement.”
Sylvia carefully suppressed any sign of the annoyance she felt. It was, of course, impossible that George should be seriously attracted by Flora, but his action implied that he and the Grants must be good friends. No doubt, he met the girl every now and then, and they had much in common. Sylvia did not mean to marry George; but it was pleasant to feel that she could count on his devotion, and she resented the idea of his falling under the influence of anybody else. She had never thought of Flora as dangerous—George was so steadfast—but she now realized that there might, perhaps, be some slight risk. A girl situated as Flora was would, no doubt, make the most of her opportunities. Sylvia grew somewhat angry; she felt she was being badly treated.
“After all,” she said calmly, “I suppose there’s no reason why George shouldn’t set up as a reformer if it pleases him. It must, however, be rather a novelty for your brother.”
“I believe it’s the excitement that has tempted him, Still, if George is taking any active part in the matter, Edgar will probably find it more than a light diversion.” Then she changed the subject. “Did I tell you that we expect Captain Bland to-night?”
Sylvia started slightly. She was aware that Ethel took what could best be described as an unsympathetic interest in her affairs, but the sudden reference to Bland threw her off her guard.