“I wish you had let me know you were helping Magsie, so—so conspicuously, Warren. One hates to be taken unawares that way.”
“She asked me to keep the thing confidential,” he answered with his baffling simplicity. “She had this good chance, but she couldn’t quite swing it. I had no idea that you would care, one way or the other.”
“Well, she ought to be launched now,” Rachael said. She hated to talk of Magsie, especially in his company, where she could do nothing but praise, but she could somehow find it difficult to speak of anything else tonight.
“Cunning little thing, there she was, holding on to my hands, as innocently as a child!” Warren said with a musing smile. “She’s a funny girl—all fire and ice, as she says herself!”
Rachael smothered a scornful interjection. Let Magsie employ the arts of a schoolgirl if she would, but at least let the great Doctor Gregory perceive their absurdity!
“Young Mr. Richie Gardiner seemed louche” she observed after a silence which Warren seemed willing indefinitely to prolong.
“H’m!” Warren gave a short, contented laugh.
“He’s crazy about her, but of course to her he’s only a kid,” he volunteered. “She’s funny about that, too. She’s emotional, of course, full of genius, and full of temperament. She says she needs a safety-valve, and Gardner is her safety-valve. She says she can sputter and rage and laugh, and he just listens and quiets her down. To-night she called him her ’bread-and-butter’—did you hear her?”
“I wonder what she considers you—her champagne?” Rachael asked with a poor assumption of amusement.
But Warren was too absorbed in his own thoughts to notice it.
“It’s curious how I do inspire and encourage her,” he admitted. “She needs that sort of thing. She’s always up in the clouds or down in the dumps.”
“Do you see her often, Warren?” Rachael asked with deadly calm.
“I’ve seen her pretty regularly since this thing began,” he answered absently, still too much wrapped in the memories of the evening to suspect his wife’s emotion. Rachael did not speak again.
Only Miss Margaret Clay perused the papers on the following morning with an avidity to equal that of Mrs. Warren Gregory. Magsie read hungrily for praise, Rachael was as eager to discover blame. The actress, lying in her soft bed, wrapped in embroidered silk, and sleepily conscious that she was wakening to fame and fortune, gave, it is probable, only an occasional fleeting thought to her benefactor’s wife, but Rachael, crisp and trim over her breakfast, thought of nothing but Magsie while she read.