“I’m sorry. You’re leavin’ me no option. I’m not a yellow dog. Sometimes I’m ‘most a man. I’m goin’ to do what I think is right.”
“Of course,” she responded lightly. “If our ideas of what that is differ—”
“It’s because we’ve been brought up differently, I suppose.” She achieved a stifled little yawn behind her hand.
“You’ve said it.” He gave it to her straight from the shoulder. “All yore life you’ve been pampered. When you wanted a thing all you had to do was to reach out a hand for it. Folks were born to wait on you, by yore way of it. You’re a spoiled kid. You keep these manicured lah-de-dah New York lads steppin’. Good enough. Be as high-heeled as you’re a mind to. I’ll step some too for you—when you smile at me right. But it’s time to serve notice that in my country folks grow man-size. You ask me to climb up the side of a house to pick you a bit of ivy from under the eaves, and I reckon I’ll take a whirl at it. But you ask me to turn my back on a friend, and I’ve got to say, ‘Nothin’ doin’.’ And if you was just a few years younger I’d advise yore pa to put you in yore room and feed you bread and water for askin’ it.”
The angry color poured into her cheeks. She clenched her hands till the nails bit her palms. “I think you’re the most hateful man I ever met,” she cried passionately.
His easy smile taunted her. “Oh, no, you don’t. You just think you think it. Now, I’m goin’ to light a shuck. I’ll be sayin’ good-bye, Miss Beatrice, until you send for me.”
“And that will be never,” she flung at him.
He rose, bowed, and walked out of the room.
The street door closed behind him. Beatrice bit her lip to keep from breaking down before she reached her room.
A LADY WEARS A RING
Clarendon Bromfield got the shock of his life that evening. Beatrice proposed to him. It was at the Roberson dinner-dance, in the Palm Room, within sight but not within hearing of a dozen other guests.
She camouflaged what she was doing with occasional smiles and ripples of laughter intended to deceive the others present, but her heart was pounding sixty miles an hour.
Bromfield was not easily disconcerted. He prided himself on his aplomb. It was hard to get behind his cynical, decorous smile, the mask of a suave and worldly-wise Pharisee of the twentieth century. But for once he was amazed. The orchestra was playing a lively fox trot and he thought that perhaps he had not caught her meaning.
“I beg your pardon.”
Miss Whitford laced her fingers round her knee and repeated. It was as though rose leaves had brushed the ivory of her cheeks and left a lovely stain there. Her eyes were hard and brilliant as diamonds.
“I was wondering when you are going to ask me again to marry you.”