Miss Spencer glanced into his face, the grave tone making her apprehensive that she might have gone too far.
“She was here earlier in the evening, but now that you remind me of it, I do not recall having noticed her of late. But, really, Lieutenant, it is no part of my duty to chaperon the young girl. Mrs. Herndon could probably inform you of her present whereabouts.”
Miss Spencer was conscious of the sting of failure, and her face flushed with vexation. “It is extremely close in here, don’t you think?” she complained. “And I was so careless as to mislay my fan. I feel almost suffocated.”
“Did you leave it at home?” he questioned. “Possibly I might discover a substitute somewhere in the room.”
“Oh, no; I would never think of troubling you to such an extent. No doubt this feeling of lassitude will pass away shortly. It was very foolish of me, but I left the fan with my wraps at the hotel. It can be recovered when we go across to supper.”
In spite of Miss Spencer’s quiet words of renunciation, there was a look of pleading in her shyly uplifted eyes impossible to resist. Brant promptly surrendered before this masked battery.
“It will be no more than a pleasure to recover it for you,” he protested, gallantly.
The stairs leading down from the hall entrance were shrouded in darkness, the street below nearly deserted of loiterers, although lights streamed forth resplendently from the undraped windows of the Occidental and the hotel opposite. Assisted in his search by Mrs. Guffy, the officer succeeded in recovering the lost fan, and started to return. Just without the hotel door, under the confusing shadows of the wide porch, he came suddenly face to face with a young woman, the unexpected encounter a mutual and embarrassing surprise.
AN UNUSUAL GIRL
The girl was without wraps, her dress of some light, fleecy material fitting her slender figure exquisitely, her head uncovered; within her eyes Brant imagined he could detect the glint of tears. She spoke first, her voice faltering slightly.
“Will you kindly permit me to pass?”
He stepped instantly to one side, bowing as he did so.
“I beg your pardon for such seeming rudeness,” he said, gravely. “I have been seeking you all the evening, yet this unexpected meeting caught me quite unawares.”
“You have been seeking me? That is strange. For what reason, pray?”
“To achieve what you were once kind enough to suggest as possible—the formality of an introduction. It would seem, however, that fate makes our meetings informal.”
“That is your fault, not mine.”
“I gladly assume all responsibility, if you will only waive the formality and accept my friendship.”
Her face seemed to lighten, while her lips twitched as if suppressing a smile. “You are very forgetful. Did I not tell you that we Presbyterians are never guilty of such indiscretions?”