It was not necessary for me to tell Jerry that I had overheard his interview with Una Habberton. And when he spoke of the incident, I encouraged him to talk until I learned just how much—and how little—the meeting meant to him. The impression, the rather unique impression she had first made upon the clean, fair surface of his mind, remained indelibly printed: the first female creature he had seen and talked with, a youthful being, like himself, with whom he could talk as he talked with me, without care or restraint,—a creature of ideals, humor, and a fine feeling for human companionship which she did not hesitate to share; a friend like Skookums or me, but of an infinitely finer grain, with a gentler voice, a smoother skin and softer eyes, better to look at; in short, more agreeable, more surprising, more sympathetic, more appealing. This chance meeting, I think, merely confirmed the previous impression, reasserting an early conception of femininity with which the charms of Marcia Van Wyck could have nothing in common. He must have compared them, but with different standards of comparison, for each in Jerry’s mind was sui generis. The glamour of Marcia, her perfumes, her artistry, the lure of her voice and eyes, her absorbing abstractions and sudden enthusiasms—how could Una’s quaint transitions compare with such as these? And yet I am sure that he judged Una Habberton not unfavorably in Marcia’s reflected glamour, for he spoke of the character in her hands (thinking of Marcia’s rosy nails) and the radiancy of her smile (thinking of Marcia’s red lips). And whatever he may have thought of her personal pulchritude or the quiet magnetism of her friendliness, there was no room in his mind just now for the merely spiritual. If Una had a place in his heart, it was where the ebb and flow were quiet, not in the mid-stream of hot blood. But Jerry kept his word. His check for Una’s day nursery went forward on the day following their meeting and Jerry found time in the intervals between Marcia, business and the gymnasium to call upon Una and talk over in a general way the great project in which their interest was involved. I heard little of these few meetings, for after a short visit with Ballard, during which we discussed Jerry’s plans in despair, I went back to the Manor to resume my much neglected work.
It was now March. I missed Jerry as I knew I should miss him always at this season when it had been our custom to fare forth in search of woodland adventure and the early signs of spring. I wondered if Jerry in the city could be feeling the call of the wanderlust as I did. I managed to work a few hours of each day, but my habit of concentration seemed to fail me, and my thoughts kept recurring unpleasantly to the ruin Jerry was courting both for his reputation and his spirit. Clean as he was, he couldn’t play too long with pitch and not be defiled. I heard one day that Briar Hills had just been opened and I pricked up my ears. Aha! It couldn’t be long now before the bird would come homing.