“Who,” she asked with considerable emphasis, “is Rosalind Stanton?”
“Oh,” said Rodney very casually, behind the worst imitation of a yawn she had ever seen, “oh, she got put off the car when I did.”
“That sounds rather exciting,” said Frederica behind an imitation yawn of her own—but a better one. “Going to tell me about it?”
“Nothing much to tell,” said Rodney. “There was a row about a fare, as I said. The conductor was evidently solid concrete above the collar-bone, and didn’t think she’d paid. And she grabbed him and very nearly threw him out into the street—could have done it, I believe, as easily as not. And he began to talk about punching somebody’s head. And then, we both got put off. So, naturally, I walked with her over to the elevated. And then I forgot to give her her note-books and came away with them.”
“What sort of looking girl?” asked Frederica. “Is she pretty?”
“Why, I don’t know,” said Rodney judicially. “Really, you know, I hardly got a fair look at her.”
Frederica made a funny sounding laugh and wished him an abrupt “good night.”
She was a great old girl, Frederica—pretty wise about lots of things, but Rodney was inclined to think she was mistaken in saying women didn’t like adventures. Take that girl this afternoon, for example. Evidently she was willing to meet one half-way. And how she’d blazed up when that conductor touched her! Just the memory of it brought back something of the thrill he had felt when he saw it happen.
“You’re a liar, you know,” remarked his conscience, “telling Frederica you hadn’t had a good look at her.”
On the contrary, he argued, it was perfectly justifiable to deny that a look as brief as that, was good. He wouldn’t deny, however, that the thing had been a wholly delightful and exhilarating little episode. That was the way to have things happen! Have them pop out of nowhere at you and disappear presently, into the same place.
“Disappear indeed!” sneered his conscience. “How about those note-books, with her name and address on every one. And there’s another lie you told—about forgetting to give them to her!”
He protested that it was entirely true. He had gone into the station with the girl, shaken hands with her, said good night, and turned away to leave the station, unaware—as evidently she was—that he still had her note-books under his arm. But it was equally true that he had discovered them there, a good full second before the girl had turned the corner of the stairs—in plenty of time to have called her back to the barrier, and handed them over to her.
“All right, have it your own way,” said Rodney cheerfully, as he turned out the light.
THE SECOND ENCOUNTER
Portia Stanton was late for lunch; so, after stripping off her jacket and gloves, rolling up her veil and scowling at herself in an oblong mahogany-framed mirror in the hall, she walked into the dining-room with her hat on. Seeing her mother sitting alone at the lunch table, she asked, “Where is Rose?”