“Who is it with her?”
“Her uncle, Dr. Elliot. He doesn’t altogether approve of us—me, I mean.”
Uncle and niece were coming directly toward them now, and Hal watched her approach with a thrill of delight in her motion. It was a study in harmonies. She moved like a cloud before the wind; like a ship upon the high seas; like the swirl of swift waters above hidden depths. As the pair passed to their car, which stood next to Dr. Surtaine’s, the girl glanced up and nodded, with a brilliant smile, to the doctor, who returned to the salutation an extra-gallant bow.
“You seem to be friends,” commented Hal, somewhat amused.
“That was more for you than for me. But the fair Esme can always spare one of those smiles for anything that wears trousers.”
Hal moved uneasily. He felt a sense of discord. As he cast about for a topic to shift to, the Elliot car rolled ahead slowly, and once more he caught the woodsy perfume of the pink bloom. Strangely and satisfyingly to his quickened perceptions, it seemed to express the quality of the wearer. Despite her bearing of worldly self-assurance, despite the atmosphere of modishness about her, there was in her charm something wild and vivid, vernal and remote, like the arbutus which, alone among flowers, keeps its life-secret virgin and inviolate, resisting all endeavors to make it bloom except in its own way and in its own chosen places.
Certina had found its first modest home in Worthington on a side street. As the business grew, the staid tenement which housed it expanded and drew to itself neighboring buildings, until it eventually gave way to the largest, finest, and most up-to-date office edifice in the city. None too large, fine, or modern was this last word in architecture for the triumphant nostrum and the minor medical enterprises allied to it. For though Certina alone bore the name and spread the fame and features of its inventor abroad in the land, many lesser experiments had bloomed into success under the fertilizing genius of the master-quack.
Inanimate machinery, when it runs sweetly, gives forth a definite tone, the bee-song of work happily consummated. So this great human mechanism seemed, to Harrington Surtaine as he entered the realm of its activities, moving to music personal to itself. Through its wide halls he wandered, past humming workrooms, up spacious stairways, resonant to the tread of brisk feet, until he reached the fifth floor where cluster the main offices. Here through a succession of open doors he caught a glimpse of the engineer who controlled all these lively processes, leaning easily back from his desk, fresh, suavely groomed, smiling, an embodiment of perfect satisfaction. Before Dr. Surtaine lay many sheaves of paper, in rigid order. A stenographer sat in a far corner, making notes. From beyond a side door came the precise, faint clicking of a typewriter. The room possessed an atmosphere of calm and poise; but not of restfulness. At once and emphatically it impressed the visitor with a sense that it was a place where things were done, and done efficiently.