“Oh, your father proposed getting me something a good while ago.”
“Did he? Then I wonder you haven’t had it. He’s usually on time.”
“You’re both very energetic, I think,” said Mrs. Pasmer.
“He’s the father of his son,” said the young fellow, assuming the merit with a bow of burlesque modesty.
It went to Mrs. Pasmer’s heart. “Let’s hope he’ll never forget that,” she said, in an enjoyment of the excitement and the salad that was beginning to leave her question of these Maverings a light, diaphanous cloud on the verge of the horizon.
The elder Mavering had been trying, without success, to think of something to say to Miss Pasmer, he had twice cleared his throat for that purpose. But this comedy between his son and the young lady’s mother seemed so much lighter and brighter than anything he could have said, that he said nothing, and looked on with his mouth set in its queer smile, while the girl listened with the gravity of a daughter who sees that her mother is losing her head. Mrs. Pasmer buzzed on in her badinage with the young man, and allowed him to go for a cup of coffee before she rose from her chair, and shook out her skirts with an air of pleasant expectation of whatever should come next.
He came back without it. “The coffee urn has dried up here, Mrs. Pasmer. But you can get some at the other spreads; they’d be inconsolable if you didn’t take something everywhere.”
They all started toward the door, but the elder Mavering said, holding back a little, “Dan, I think I’ll go and see—”
“Oh no, you mustn’t, father,” cried the young man, laying his hand with caressing entreaty on his father’s coat sleeve. “I don’t want you to go anywhere till you’ve seen Professor Saintsbury. We shall be sure to meet him at some of the spreads. I want you to have that talk with him—” He corrected himself for the instant’s deflection from the interests of his guest, and added, “I want you to help me hunt him up for Mrs. Pasmer. Now, Mrs. Pasmer, you’re not to think it’s the least trouble, or anything but a boon, much less say it,” he cried, turning to the deprecation in Mrs. Pasmer’s face. He turned away from it to acknowledge the smiles and bows of people going out of the place, and he returned their salutations with charming heartiness.
In the vestibule they met the friends they were going in search of.
“With Mr. Mavering, of course!” exclaimed Mrs. Saintsbury: “I might have known it.” Mrs. Pasmer would have given anything she could think of to be able to ask why her friend might have known it; but for the present they could only fall upon each other with flashes of self-accusal and explanation, and rejoicing for their deferred and now accomplished meeting. The Professor stood by with the satirical smile with which men witness the effusion of women. Young Mavering, after sharing the ladies’ excitement fully with them, rewarded himself by an exclusive moment with Miss Pasmer.