“The most beautiful woman in all the world,” I answered with enthusiasm. “You will meet her also.”
“I do not believe I shall like her either,” said Phyllis. “Good night;” and the door swung to.
Pembroke and I made off for the club. . . . Perhaps it was my enthusiasm.
I had just left the office when I ran into Pembroke, who was in the act of mounting the stairs. It was Saturday morning. Phyllis had left town.
“Hello!” he cried. “A moment more, and I should have missed you, and then you would not have learned a piece of news.”
“Yes. I have made up my mind not to go home till February.”
“What changed your plans so suddenly?” I asked.
“In heaven’s name, what has your conscience to do with your plans?”
“Well, you see, my conscience would not permit me to meet such a remarkable woman as Miss Landors without becoming better acquainted with her.” He swung his cane back and forth.
“This is very sudden,” said I, lighting a cigar. “When did it happen?”
“What time did she come into your office the other day?”
“It must have been after eleven.”
“Then it happened about eleven-fifteen.” Pembroke’s eyes were dancing. “Do you—er—think there are any others?”
“Thousands,” said I, “only—” I turned the end of my cigar around to see if the light had proved effective.
“Only she won’t have them.”
“Then there is really a chance?”
“When a woman is not married there is always a chance,” said I, wisely. “But let me tell you, cousin mine, she has a very high ideal. The man who wins her must be little less than a demigod and a little more than a man. Indeed, her ideal is so high that I did not reach it by a good foot.”
Pembroke looked surprised. “She—ah—rejected—”
“I did not say that I had proposed to her,” said I.
“If you haven’t, why haven’t you?”
“It is strange.” As his face assumed an anxious tinge, I laughed. “My dear relative, go ahead and win her, if you can; you have my best wishes. She is nothing to me. There was a time—ah, well, we all can look back and say that. If it isn’t one woman it’s another.”
Sunshine came into Pembroke’s face again. “Ideal or not ideal, I am going to make the effort.”
“Success to you!” patting his shoulder. He was good to look at, and it was my opinion that Phyllis might do worse. We miss a good deal in this world by being over particular.
We were coming into Trafalgar. Nelson stood high up in the yellow fog.
“Nature is less gracious than history sometimes,” mused Pembroke, gazing up. “She is doing her best to dull the lustre of the old gentleman. Ah, those were days when they had men.”