“‘I don’t see any reason why a woman should be different from a man,’ Jerry went on. ’Men don’t cry, why should women? I’ve always thought the Greeks were right. To me there’s only one sin the world and that’s weakness.’
“You’ll pardon me, Pope, if I say that he sounded very much like you,” he laughed. “He had the preaching tone, the assertiveness. It was most amusing. Imagine the paradox, this babe, an ascetic and this worldling, a sybarite, meeting upon a common ground! For I really believe she was sincere about her self-sufficiency. Whatever her tastes, she’s no weakling.”
“But she’s trivial, a smatterer, a decadent—”
“And handsome,” laughed Ballard. “Don’t forget that.”
“Mere looks will never ensnare Jerry.”
“I hope not, but she’ll teach him a thing or two before she’s through with him.”
I was silent for some moments, and then: “What else do you know of this girl?” I asked.
“Nothing. I’ve painted you the picture as well as I could. The conversation that followed was unimportant. Her remarks became guarded and later descended to the mere commonplace.”
“She is dangerous,” I said.
“I’ve warned Jerry. He laughed at me.”
“When was this call?” I asked.
“The day before yesterday.”
“And where is Jerry today?”
“I have a notion that he is spending the afternoon
with Miss Marcia
Van Wyck,” he said with a smile.
I should very much like to have been present while Jerry made some of his visits to the house of the girl Marcia in order to have heard with my own ears what she said to Jerry in those first few weeks of their acquaintance. Some of it, a very little, I did learn from Jerry’s letters to me, but much more from Jack Ballard, who visited the lady upon his own account and supplied the missing links in my information as to the growing friendship. But the nature of Jerry’s feelings toward her I can only surmise by my knowledge of the character of the boy himself through which I tried to peer as with my own eyes, at the personality of this extraordinary female. That she was more than ordinarily clever there was no reason to doubt; that she was attractive to the better class of young men in her own set was beyond dispute; that she was thoroughly unscrupulous as to the means by which she attained her ends (whatever they were) seemed more than probable. Perhaps she did not differ greatly from other young female persons in her own walk of life, but I would have been better pleased if Jerry’s education in the ways of the world could have proceeded a little more slowly. It seemed to me as I compared them, that the girl Una, who had called herself Smith, brazen as she was, would have been a much saner companion. I could not believe, of course, that either of them could sway Jerry definitely from the path of right