“No. But I prefer plain food,” she replied.
“Have a cigarette,” he said, holding out his silver monogrammed case.
“Thanks, Larry. I—I guess I’ll not take up smoking again. You see, while I was West I got out of the habit.”
“Yes, they told me you had changed,” he returned. “How about drinking?”
“Why, I thought New York had gone dry!” she said, forcing a laugh.
“Only on the surface. Underneath it’s wetter than ever.”
“Well, I’ll obey the law.”
He ordered a rather elaborate dinner, and then turning his attention to Carley, gave her closer scrutiny. Carley knew then that he had become acquainted with the fact of her broken engagement. It was a relief not to need to tell him.
“How’s that big stiff, Kilbourne?” asked Morrison, suddenly. “Is it true he got well?”
“Oh—yes! He’s fine,” replied Carley with eyes cast down. A hot knot seemed to form deep within her and threatened to break and steal along her veins. “But if you please—I do not care to talk of him.”
“Naturally. But I must tell you that one man’s loss is another’s gain.”
Carley had rather expected renewed courtship from Morrison. She had not, however, been prepared for the beat of her pulse, the quiver of her nerves, the uprising of hot resentment at the mere mention of Kilbourne. It was only natural that Glenn’s former rivals should speak of him, and perhaps disparagingly. But from this man Carley could not bear even a casual reference. Morrison had escaped the army service. He had been given a high-salaried post at the ship-yards—the duties of which, if there had been any, he performed wherever he happened to be. Morrison’s father had made a fortune in leather during the war. And Carley remembered Glenn telling her he had seen two whole blocks in Paris piled twenty feet deep with leather army goods that were never used and probably had never been intended to be used. Morrison represented the not inconsiderable number of young men in New York who had gained at the expense of the valiant legion who had lost. But what had Morrison gained? Carley raised her eyes to gaze steadily at him. He looked well-fed, indolent, rich, effete, and supremely self-satisfied. She could not see that he had gained anything. She would rather have been a crippled ruined soldier.
“Larry, I fear gain and loss are mere words,” she said. “The thing that counts with me is what you are.”
He stared in well-bred surprise, and presently talked of a new dance which had lately come into vogue. And from that he passed on to gossip of the theatres. Once between courses of the dinner he asked Carley to dance, and she complied. The music would have stimulated an Egyptian mummy, Carley thought, and the subdued rose lights, the murmur of gay voices, the glide and grace and distortion of the dancers, were exciting and pleasurable. Morrison had the suppleness and skill of a dancing-master. But he held Carley too tightly, and so she told him, and added, “I imbibed some fresh pure air while I was out West—something you haven’t here—and I don’t want it all squeezed out of me.”