She ended with her head back, her lips raised to his, and in the kiss that passed between them there was something sacred, something in the nature of a bond.
Yet in a moment she was smiling again, the while she slipped from his close embrace. “And now you are going to dress for the ball. Come, you won’t refuse me just for to-night—just for to-night!”
She pleaded with him like a girl and she proved irresistible. Half dazzled by her, he surrendered to her wiles.
“I will come if you like, Daisy; but I’m afraid I shall only be in the way. My dancing has grown very rusty from long disuse.”
“What nonsense!” she protested. “Why, I only married you for the sake of your dancing. If you don’t come, I shall spend the whole evening dancing with Nick.”
“Oh, I’m not afraid of Nick!” said Will. “He is as safe as the Bank of England.”
“Is he?” said Daisy. “You wait till you catch us alone some day. I tell you frankly, Will, I’ve kissed Nick more than once!”
“My dear,” he said, “your frankness is your salvation. You have my full permission to do so as often as you meet.”
She made a face at him, and finally freed herself. “Many thanks! But you wouldn’t like me to create a scandal by dancing with him all the evening, I am sure. So,” giving him a small, emphatic push, “go at once and dress your lazy self, and do your duty as a husband for once!”
“Shall I be adequately rewarded for it?” questioned Will, looking back as he turned to go.
She blew him an airy kiss. “Yes, you shall have half my waltzes.”
He still lingered. “And the other half?”
“The other half,” said Daisy, “will be divided equally between Nick and my prospective son-in-law.”
And at that Will laughed like a merry boy and moved away. “I know I can cut out Noel,” he said as he went. “As for Nick, he is welcome to as many as he can get.”
A woman’s prejudice
The evening was marked for ever in Olga’s calendar as the merriest of her life. She was positively giddy with happiness, and she danced as she had never danced before. No one deemed her colourless or insignificant that night. She was radiant, and all who saw her felt the glow.
The only flaw in her joy was a slight dread of Noel; but this he very quickly dispelled, singling her out at once to plead for dances.
“You’ve saved a few for me, I know,” he said, in his wheedling Irish way, and she saw at once that, whatever his inner feelings, he had no intention of wearing his heart on his sleeve.
She showed him her programme. “Yes, I’ve kept quite a lot for you to choose from,” she said.
He flashed her a glance from his dark eyes that made her drop her own. “All right then,” he said coolly. “I’ll take ’em all.”
She raised no protest though she had not quite expected that of him. She felt she owed it to him—as if in short she ought to give him anything he asked for to make up for what she had been compelled to withhold.