“Ah, she is a clever woman, too. She showed the prettiest kind of curiosity—so perfectly managed. She has a studio—I don’t know just how she puts it to use—with a painter girl in one of those studio apartment houses on the West Side: The Veronese, I believe. You must go and see her; I’ll let you have next Tuesday off; Tuesday’s her day, too.”
“You are generosity itself, Miss Macroyd.”
“Yes, there’s nothing mean about me,” she returned, in slang rather older than she ordinarily used. “If you’re not here next Tuesday I shall know where you are.”
“Then I must take a good many Tuesdays off, unless I want to give myself away.”
“Oh, don’t do that, Mr. Verrian! Please! Or else I can’t let you have any Tuesday off.”
Upon the whole, Verrian thought he would go to see Miss Shirley the next Tuesday, but he did not say so to Miss Macroyd. Now that he knew where the girl was, all the peculiar interest she had inspired in him renewed itself. It was so vivid that he could not pay his usual Thursday call at Miss Andrews’s, and it filled his mind to the exclusion of the new story he had begun to write. He loafed his mornings away at his club, and he lunched there, leaving his mother to lunch alone, and was dreamily preoccupied in the evenings which he spent at home, sitting at his desk, with the paper before him, unable to coax the thoughts from his brain to its alluring blank, but restive under any attempts of hers to talk with him.
In his desperation he would have gone to the theatre, but the fact that the ass who rightfully called himself Verrian was playing at one of them blocked his way, through his indignation, to all of them. By Saturday afternoon the tedious time had to be done something with, and he decided to go and see what the ass was like.
He went early, and found himself in the end seat of a long row of many rows of women, who were prolonging the time of keeping their hats on till custom obliged them to take them off. He gave so much notice to the woman next him as to see that she was deeply veiled as well as widely hatted, and then he lapsed into a dreary muse, which was broken by the first strains of the overture. Then he diverted himself by looking round at all those ranks of women lifting their arms to take out them hat-pins and dropping them to pin their hats to the seat-backs in front of them, or to secure them somehow in their laps. Upon the whole, he thought the manoeuvre graceful and pleasing; he imagined a consolation in it for the women, who, if they were forced by public opinion to put off their charming hats, would know how charmingly they did it. Each turned a little, either her body or her head, and looked in any case out of the corner of her eyes; and he was phrasing it all for a scene in his story, when he looked round at his neighbor to see how she had managed, or was managing, with her veil. At the same moment she looked at him, and their eyes met.