When Marston had gone she turned over and composed herself for sleep—it was two hours until she had need to array herself for luncheon and Snodgrass.... Yes, Snodgrass was a very good-looking chap; her drive with him last night had been very satisfactory; he had the requisite wealth, so it might be just as well to let him become fascinated. It would be at least a momentary diversion; something to occupy her for the loss of Harleston. She closed her eyes—and shivered ever so little. Damn Mrs. Clephane! But for her she would not have lost him.
She flung off the cover and sprang up. There was a chance left and she would try it. If it failed, she would not lose more than she had already lost. If it won, she won Harleston!
PLAYING THE GAME
She threw a kimono around her and hastened to the telephone.
“Get me,” she said to the hotel central, “Mr. Harleston at the Collingwood, the Cosmopolitan Club, or the State Department.”
“I’ll call you,” said the operator—and Madeline Spencer leaned back in her chair and waited.
Presently the call came.
“I have Mr. Harleston for you,” said the operator and switched on the trunk.
“Where are you, Guy?—this is Madeline Spencer,” said she.
“I’m at the Collingwood, Madeline. Anything I can do for you?” was the answer.
“Yes. Be here in an hour; I must see you.”
“Then I’ll be there at ten-thirty.”
“You’re always good!” said she softly.
“Not always,” he laughed, “but I will be this time.”
She dressed in feverish haste, yet with great care and attention to effects. Her gown was a lustreless black silk, trimmed with gold and made as plain as her modiste would—and the styles permitted. Her hair was piled high, with an elongated twist; her dead-white complexion was unmarred by powder or rouge, and beneath the transparent skin the blood pulsed softly pink.
Her toilet finished, and passed upon in the mirror, she sent her maid on a shopping expedition which would occupy her until noon, and even hurried her off. She wanted no one about, not even Elise, when she made her last play at Harleston.
Elise gone five minutes before the hour, she compelled herself to outward tranquillity—while she strove for inward calm. And succeeding wonderfully well—so well, indeed, that none would ever have suspected the agitation seething under the cold placidity. Its only evidence was in the gentle swing of her narrow foot, and the nervous play of her slender fingers. And even these indications disappeared at the knock on the corridor door; and she went almost blithely and flung it back—to Harleston bowing on the threshold.
“Punctual as usual!” she greeted.
“Because I came to one who is always punctual,” he replied, taking her hand, nor dropping it until they were well inside the reception room.