It was of friendships she dreamed, and the blessed nearness of others, and the liberty to seek them. She promised herself she would never, never again permit herself to be alone. She had no definite plans, except that. Life henceforth must be filled with the bright shapes of comrades. Life must be only pleasure. Never again must sadness come near her. A miraculous capacity for happiness seemed to fill her breast, expanding with the fierce desire for it, until under the closed lids tears stole out, and there, in the darkness, she held out her bare arms to the world—the kind, good, generous, warm-hearted world, which was waiting, just beyond her threshold, to welcome her and love her and companion her for ever.
She awoke tired; she had scarcely closed her eyes that night. The fresh odour of roses filled her room when her maid arrived with morning gifts from Kathleen and Scott.
She lay abed until noon. They started dressing her about three. After that the day became unreal to her.
* * * * *
Manhattan was conventionally affable to Geraldine Seagrave, also somewhat curious to see what she looked like. Fifth Avenue and the neighbouring side streets were jammed with motors and carriages on the bright January afternoon that Geraldine made her bow, and the red and silver drawing-rooms, so famous a generation ago, were packed continually.
What people saw was a big, clumsy house expensively overdecorated in the appalling taste of forty years ago, now screened by forests of palms and vast banks of flowers; and they saw a number of people popularly identified with the sort of society which newspapers delight to revere; and a few people of real distinction; and a young girl, noticeably pale, standing beside Kathleen Severn and receiving the patronage of dowagers and beaux, and the impulsive clasp of fellowship from fresh-faced young girls and nice-looking, well-mannered young fellows.
The general opinion seemed to be that Geraldine Seagrave possessed all the beauty which rumour had attributed to her as her right by inheritance, but the animation of her clever mother was lacking. Also, some said that her manners still smacked of the nursery; and that, unless it had been temporarily frightened out of her, she had little personality and less charm.
Nothing, as a matter of fact, had been frightened out of her; for weeks she had lived in imagination so vividly through that day that when the day really arrived it found her physically and mentally unresponsive; the endless reiteration of names sounded meaninglessly in her ears, the crowding faces blurred. She was passively satisfied to be there, and content with the touch of hands and the pleasant-voiced formalities of people pressing toward her from every side.
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