MR. CRAIG KISSES THE IDOL’S FOOT
Grant Arkwright reached the Waldorf a little less than an hour after he had seen the bride and groom drive away from Doctor Scones’. He found Craig pacing up and down before the desk, his agitation so obvious that the people about were all intensely and frankly interested. “You look as if you were going to draw a couple of guns in a minute or so and shoot up the house,” said he, putting himself squarely before Josh and halting him.
“For God’s sake, Grant,” cried Joshua, “see how I’m sweating! Go upstairs—up to their suite, and find out what’s the matter.”
“Go yourself,” retorted Grant.
Craig shook his head. He couldn’t confess to Arkwright what was really agitating him, why he did not disregard Margaret’s injunction.
“What’re you afraid of?”
Josh scowled as Grant thus unconsciously scuffed the sore spot. “I’m not afraid!” he cried aggressively. “It’s better that you should go. Don’t haggle—go!”
As Grant could think of no reason why he shouldn’t, and as he had the keenest curiosity to see how the “old tartar” was taking it, he went. Margaret’s voice came in response to his knock. “Oh, it’s you,” said she in a tone of relief.
Her face was swollen and her eyes red. She looked anything but lovely. Grant, however, was instantly so moved that he did not notice her homeliness. Also, he was one of those unobservant people who, having once formed an impression of a person, do not revise it except under compulsion; his last observation of Margaret had resulted in an impression of good looks, exceptional charm. He bent upon her a look in which understanding sympathy was heavily alloyed with the longing of the covetous man in presence of his neighbor’s desirable possessions. But he discreetly decided that he would not put into words—at least, not just yet—his sympathy with her for her dreadful, her tragic mistake. No, it would be more tactful as well as more discreet to pretend belief that her tears had been caused by her grandmother. He glanced round.
“Where’s Madam Bowker?” inquired he. “Did she blow up and bolt?”
“Oh, no,” answered Margaret, seating herself with a dreary sigh. “She’s gone to her sitting-room to write with her own hand the announcement that’s to be given out. She says the exact wording is very important.”
“So it is,” said Grant. “All that’s said will take its color from the first news.”
“No doubt.” Margaret’s tone was indifferent, absent.
Arkwright hesitated to introduce the painful subject, the husband; yet he had a certain malicious pleasure in doing it, too. “Josh wants to come up,” said he. “He’s down at the desk, champing and tramping and pawing holes in the floor.” And he looked at her, to note the impression of this vivid, adroitly-reminiscent picture.