“Not on my account. I don’t need any. If I haven’t made myself so essential after the six months that you have to keep me on, I’ll want to quit.”
“Still in the gambling mood,” smiled Marrineal.
The two practical journalists left, making an appointment to spend the following morning with Marrineal in planning policy and methods. Banneker went back to his apartment and wrote Miss Camilla Van Arsdale all about it, in exultant mood.
“Brains to let! But I’ve got my price. And I’ll get a higher one: the highest, if I can hold out. It’s all due to you. If you hadn’t kept my mind turned to things worth while in the early days at Manzanita, with your music and books and your taste for all that is fine, I’d have fallen into a rut. It’s success, the first real taste. I like it. I love it. And I owe it all to you.”
Camilla Van Arsdale, yearning over the boyish outburst, smiled and sighed and mused and was vaguely afraid, with quasi-maternal fears. She, too, had had her taste of success; a marvelous stimulant, bubbling with inspiration and incitement. But for all except the few who are strong and steadfast, there lurks beneath the effervescence a subtle poison.
Not being specially gifted with originality of either thought or expression, Mr. Herbert Cressey stopped Banneker outside of his apartment with the remark made and provided for the delayed reunion of frequent companions: “Well I thought you were dead!”
By way of keeping to the same level Banneker replied cheerfully: “I’m not.”
“Where’ve you been all this while?”
“Where were you Monday last? Didn’t see you at Sherry’s.”
“And the week before? You weren’t at The Retreat.”
“And the week before that? Nobody’s seen so much—”
“Working. Working. Working.”
“I stopped in at your roost and your new man told me you were away and might be gone indefinitely. Funny chap, your new man. Mysterious sort of manner. Where’d you pick him up?”
“Oh, Lord! Hainer!” exclaimed Banneker appreciatively. “Well, he told the truth.”
“You look pulled down, too, by Jove!” commented Cressey, concern on his sightly face. “Ridin’ for a fall, aren’t you?”
“Only for a test. I’m going to let up next week.”
“Tell you what,” proffered Cressey. “Let’s do a day together. Say Wednesday, eh? I’m giving a little dinner that night. And, oh, I say! By the way—no: never mind that. You’ll come, won’t you? It’ll be at The Retreat.”
“Yes: I’ll come. I’ll be playing polo that afternoon.”
“Not if Jim Maitland sees you first. He’s awfully sore on you for not turning up to practice. Had a place for you on the second team.”
“Don’t want it. I’m through with polo.”