“Ah,” she said, smiling back at him. “I don’t know; that’s a hard question to answer. I’ve never asked myself that question.”
“Well, I’m saving you the trouble, you see,” he answered, still smiling. “I am asking it for you.”
“But I don’t want to answer such a question off-hand like that; how can I tell? It would only be perhaps, just now.”
Young Haight answered quickly that “just now” he would be contented with that “perhaps”; but Turner did not hear this. She had spoken at the same time as he, exclaiming, “But what is the good of talking of that? Because no matter what happened I feel as though I could not break my promise to Van, even if I should want to. Because I have talked like this, Dolly,” she went on more seriously, “you must not be deceived or get a wrong impression. You understand how things are, don’t you?”
“Oh, yes,” he answered, still trying to carry it off with a laugh. “I know, I know. But now I hope you won’t let anything I have said bother you, and that things will go on just as if I hadn’t spoken, just as if nothing had happened.”
“Why, of course,” she said, laughing with him again. “Of course, why shouldn’t they?”
They were both at their ease again by the time young Haight stood at the door with his hat in his hand ready to go.
He raised his free hand over her head, and said, with burlesque, dramatic effect, trying to keep down a smile:
“Bless you both; go, go marry Vandover and be happy; I forgive you.”
“Ah—don’t be so utterly absurd,” she cried, beginning to laugh.
On a certain evening about four months later Ellis and Vandover had a “date” with Ida Wade and Bessie Laguna at the Mechanics’ Fair. Ellis, Bessie, and Ida were to meet Vandover there in the Art Gallery, as he had to make a call with his father, and could not get there until half-past nine. They were all to walk about the Fair until ten, after which the two men proposed to take the girls out to the Cliff House in separate coupes. The whole thing had been arranged by Ellis and Bessie, and Vandover was irritated. Ellis ought to have had more sense; rushing the girls was all very well, but everybody went to the Mechanics’ Fair, and he didn’t like to have nice girls like Turner or Henrietta Vance see him with chippies like that. It was all very well for Ellis, who had no social position, but for him, Vandover, it would look too confounded queer. Of course he was in for it now, and would have to face the music. You can’t tell a girl like that that you’re ashamed to be seen with her, but very likely he would get himself into a regular box with it all.
When he arrived at the Mechanics’ Pavilion, it was about twenty minutes of ten, and as he pushed through the wicket he let himself into a huge amphitheatre full of colour and movement.