“It was not because I doubted you,” he said softly: “it was because they were yours.”
Spring came round again in Herculaneum. People began to go to the tailor and the dress-maker and the hatter. There were witty editorials in the newspapers on house-cleaning and about the man who had the courage to wear the first straw hat. The season (referring to the winter festivities) had been unusually lively. There had been two charity balls by rival hospital boards, receptions, amateur dramatics, dinners and dances, not to omit the announcement of several engagements.
The new Bennington mansion had its house-warming in November. The reception, followed by a dinner-dance in the evening, was, according to the society columns, “one of the social events of the season. The handsomest house in town was a bower of smilax and hothouse roses.” Everybody went to the reception, for everybody was more or less curious to meet the former celebrated actress. The society reporters, waiting for their cues, were rather non-committal in their description of the mistress. There was reason. They did not care, at this early stage of the game, to offend the leader by too much praise of a newcomer who had yet to establish herself. Besides, they realized how little their paragraphs would mean to a woman whose portrait had appeared in nearly all the illustrated magazines in the world. Thus, the half-heartedness of the newspapers was equally due to self-consciousness. Society itself, however, was greatly pleased with the beautiful Mrs. Bennington, for she entered with zest into all society’s plans. In fact, she threatened to become very popular. The younger element began to call her Mrs. Jack.
Kate was in her element, for to live after this fashion was the one ambition that had survived all seasons. She was like a child with some wonderful new French doll. There was always a crowd of young married people about her, which is a healthy sign. She and Patty became inseparable comrades. They shopped together, went to the matinees, and drove and rode together.
Everything went along smoothly, too smoothly. Fate never permits anything like this to prosper long.
For the first time in her career Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene saw her position menaced. The younger set no longer consulted her as formerly. When, like Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene, a woman has nothing more serious to live for than to organize social affairs, the slightest defection from her ranks is viewed in the light of a catastrophe. She had called on Mrs. Bennington the second, armed with all those subtle cruelties which women of her caliber know so well how to handle. And behold! she met a fencer who quietly buttoned the foils before the bout began. She had finally departed with smiles on her lips and rage in her heart. This actress, whom she had thought to awe with the majesty of her position in Herculaneum, was not awed at all. It was disconcerting; it was humiliating. She had condescended to tolerate and was tolerated in turn. Katherine adored Patty, and Patty had told her that she hated Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene. Naturally Katherine assumed the defensive whenever she met the common enemy.