Here William Douglas turned to speak to Dr. Surtaine. “The Reverend Norman Hale has been looking for you. It is some minor hitch about that Mission matter, I believe. Just a little diplomacy wanted. He said he’d call to see you day after to-morrow.”
“Meaning more money, I suppose,” said Dr. Surtaine. Then, more loudly: “Well, the business can stand it. All right. Send him along.”
With Hal close on his heels he stepped from the car. But Douglas, having the cue from his patron, took the younger man by the arm and drew him aside.
“Come over and meet some of our fair citizens,” he said. “Nothing like starting right.”
The Pierce motor car, very large, very quietly complete and elegant, was waiting near at hand, and in it a prematurely elderly, subdued nondescript of a woman, and a pretty, sensitive, sensuous type of brunette, almost too well dressed. To Mrs. Pierce and Miss Kathleen Pierce, Hal was duly presented, and by them graciously received. As he stood there, bareheaded, gracefully at ease, smiling up into the interested faces of the two ladies, Dr. Surtaine, passing to his own car to await him, looked back and was warmed with pride and gratitude for this further honorarium to his capital stock of happiness, for he saw already in his son the assurance of social success, and, on the hour’s reckoning, summed him up. And since we are to see much of Harrington Surtaine, in evil chance and good, and see him at times through the eyes of that shrewd observer and capitalizer of men, his father, the summing-up is worth our present heed, for all that it is to be considerably modified in the mind of its proponent, as events develop. This, then, is Dr. Surtaine’s estimate of his beloved “Boyee,” after a year of separation.
“A little bit of a prig. A little bit of a cub. Just a little mite of a snob, too, maybe. But the right, solid, clean stuff underneath. And my son, thank God! My son all through.”
Hal saw her first, vivid against the lifeless gray of the cement wall, as he turned away from the Pierce car. A little apart from the human current she stood, still and expectant. As if to point her out as the chosen of gods and men, the questing sun, bursting in triumph through a cloud-rift, sent a long shaft of gold to encompass and irradiate her. To the end, whether with aching heart or glad, Hal was to see her thus, in flashing, recurrent visions; a slight, poised figure, all gracious curves and tender consonances, with a cluster of the trailing arbutus, that first-love of the springtide, clinging at her breast. The breeze bore to him the faint, wild, appealing fragrance which is the very breath and soul of the blossom’s fairy-pink.