“I came to tell you/’ he said in his ordinary voice, “that the long distance call came from Miss Davis. If it is convenient for you and Aunt, she plans to come along on the evening train. Her cold is quite better.”
“The evening train, tonight?”
“Yes.” He smiled. “She is a sudden person. Gone today and here tomorrow. But you will like her. And you will adore her clothes.”
“Are they the very latest?”
“Later than that. Mary always buys yesterday what most women buy tomorrow.”
“Oh,” said Desire. “And what does this futurist lady look like?”
Benis considered. “I can’t think of anything that she looks like,” he concluded. “She doesn’t go in for resemblances. Futurists don’t, you know!”
“Isn’t it odd?” said Desire in what she hoped was a casual voice. “So many of your friends seem to be named Mary.”
“I’ve noticed that myself—lately.”
“‘Mary Seaton and Mary Beaton and Mary Carmichael and me,’” quoted Benis gravely.
Desire permitted herself to smile and turning, still smiling, faced Aunt Caroline; who, for her part, was in anything but a smiling humor.
“I’m glad you take it good-naturedly, Desire,” said Aunt Caroline acidly. “But people who arrive at a moment’s warning always annoy me. I do not require much, but a few days’ notice at the least—have you seen a photograph anywhere about?”
Desire bit her lips. “Whose photograph was it, Aunt?”
“Why, Mary Davis’ photograph, of course. The one she gave to Benis when she was last here. I hope you do not mind my taking it from your room, Benis? My intention was to have it framed. People do like to see themselves framed. I thought it might be a delicate little attention. But if she is coming tonight, it is too late now. Still, we might put it in place of Cousin Amelia Spence on the drawing-room mantel. What do you think, my dear?”
“I think we might,” said Desire. Her tone was admirably judicial but her thoughts were not. . . . If the Mary of the visit were no other than the Mary of the faun-eyed photograph, why then—
Why then, no wonder that Benis had lost interest in the great Book!
To give exhaustive reasons for the impulse which brought Miss Mary Davis to Bainbridge at this particular time would be to delve too deeply into the complex psychology of that lady. But we shall not be far wrong if we sum up the determining impulse in one word— curiosity.
The news of Benis Spence’s unexpected marriage had been something of a shock to more than one of his friends. But especially so to Mary Davis. Upon a certain interesting list, which Miss Davis kept in her well-ordered mind, the name of this agreeable bachelor had been distinctly labelled “possible.” To have a possibility snatched from under one’s nose without warning is annoying, especially if the season in possibilities threatens to be poor. The war had sadly depleted Miss Davis’ once lengthy list. And she, herself, was five years older. It would be interesting, and perhaps instructive, to see the young person from nowhere who had still further narrowed her personal territory.