“Fortunately I saw your dilemma,” he explained. “I have a cab on the corner yonder, and it is entirely at your service.”
“Now that... is real good of you,” declared Denise Ryland. “I think you’re... a brick."...
“But, my dear Miss Ryland!” cried Helen, “we cannot possibly deprive M. Gaston of his cab on a night like this!”
“I had hoped,” said the Frenchman, bowing gallantly, “that this most happy reunion might not be allowed to pass uncelebrated. Tell me if I intrude upon other plans, because I am speaking selfishly; but I was on my way to a lonely supper, and apart from the great pleasure which your company would afford me, you would be such very good Samaritans if you would join me.”
Helen Cumberly, although she was succumbing rapidly to the singular fascination of M. Max, exhibited a certain hesitancy. She was no stranger to Bohemian customs, and if the distinguished Frenchman had been an old friend of her companion’s, she should have accepted without demur; but she knew that the acquaintance had commenced in a Continental railway train, and her natural prudence instinctively took up a brief for the prosecution. But Denise Ryland had other views.
“My dear girl,” she said, “you are not going to be so... crack-brained... as to stand here... arguing and contracting... rheumatism, lumbago... and other absurd complaints... when you know perfectly well that we had already arranged to go... to supper!” She turned to the smiling Max. “This girl needs... Dragging out of... her morbid self... M. Gaston! We’ll accept... your cab, on the distinct... understanding that you are to accept our invitation... to supper.”
M. Max bowed agreeably.
“By all means let my cab take us to your supper,” he said, laughing.
M. MAX MOUNTS CAGLIOSTRO’S STAIRCASE
At a few minutes before midnight, Helen Cumberly and Denise Ryland, escorted by the attentive Frenchman, arrived at Palace Mansions. Any distrust which Helen had experienced at first was replaced now by the esteem which every one of discrimination (criminals excluded) formed of M. Max. She perceived in him a very exquisite gentleman, and although the acquaintance was but one hour old, counted him a friend. Denise Ryland was already quite at home in the Cumberly household, and she insisted that Dr. Cumberly would be deeply mortified should M. Gaston take his departure without making his acquaintance. Thus it came about that M. Gaston Max was presented (as “M. Gaston”) to Dr. Cumberly.
Cumberly, who had learned to accept men and women upon his daughter’s estimate, welcomed the resplendent Parisian hospitably; the warm, shaded lights made convivial play in the amber deeps of the decanters, and the cigars had a fire-side fragrance which M. Max found wholly irresistible.