Warrington retreated to his desk, leaning heavily against it.
“Bennington? You are going to marry John Bennington?” dully.
He sat down abruptly and stared at her with the expression of one who is suddenly confronted by some Medusa’s head, as if in the straggling wisps of hair that escaped from beneath her hat he saw the writhing serpents. She was going to marry John Bennington!
She stepped quickly up to the desk and began to scatter things about. Her hands shook, she breathed rapidly, her delicate nostrils dilating the while.
“Look out!” he warned, at her side the same instant. “Your hat is burning!” He smothered the incipient flame between his palms.
“Never mind the hat. My gloves, Dick, my gloves! I left them here on the desk.”
“Your gloves?” Then immediately he recollected that he had seen them in Bennington’s hands, but he was positive that the gloves meant nothing to Bennington. He had picked them up just as he would have picked up a paper-cutter, a pencil, a match-box, if any of these had been within reach of his nervous fingers. Most men who are at times mentally embarrassed find relief in touching small inanimate objects. So he said reassuringly: “Don’t let a pair of gloves worry you, girl.”
“He bought them for me this morning,” a break in her voice. “I must find them!”
The situation assumed altogether a different angle. There was a hint of tragedy in her eyes. More trivial things than a forgotten pair of gloves have brought about death and division. Together they renewed the search. They sifted the manuscripts, the books, the magazines, burrowed into the drawers; and sometimes their hands touched, but they neither noticed nor felt the contact. Warrington even dropped to his knees and hunted under the desk, all the while “Jack Bennington, Jack Bennington!” drumming in his ears. The search was useless. The gloves were nowhere to be found. He stood up irresolute, dismayed and anxious, keenly alive to her misery and to the inferences his best friend might draw. The desk stood between them, but their faces were within two spans of the hand.
“I can’t find them.”
“They are gone!” she whispered.
When the pathfinders came into the territory which is now called the Empire State, they carried muskets and tripods under one arm and Greek dictionaries under the other. They surveyed all day and scanned all night, skirmishing intermittently with prowling redskins. They knew something about elementary geometry, too, and you will find evidences of it everywhere, even in the Dutch settlements. The Dutchman always made the beauty of geometry impossible. Thus, nowadays, one can not move forward nor backward fifty miles in any direction without having the classic memory jarred into activity. Behold Athens, Rome,