“Yes, I’ll teach him,” said Margaret, herself more hopeful; for must always improves with acquaintance. “I’ll make him over completely. Oh, he’s not so bad as they think—not by any means.”
Lucia made an exaggerated gesture of shivering.
“He gets on my nerves,” said she. “He’s so horribly abrupt and ill-mannered.”
“Yes, I’ll train him,” said Margaret, musing aloud. “He doesn’t especially fret my nerves. A woman gets a good, strong nervous system—and a good, strong stomach—after she has been out a few years.” She laughed. “And he thinks I’m as fine and delicate as— as—”
“As you look,” suggested Lucia.
“As I look,” accepted Margaret. “How we do deceive men by our looks! Really, Lucia, he’s far more sensitive than I—far more.”
“That’s too silly!”
“If I were a millionth part as coarse as he is he’d fly from me. Yet I’m not flying from him.”
This was unanswerable. Lucia rejoined: “When are you going to—to do it?”
“Right away....I want to get it over with. I can’t stand the suspense....I can’t stand it!” And Lucia was awed and silenced by the sudden, strained look of anguish almost that made Margaret’s face haggard and her eyes wild.
MRS. SEVERENCE IS ROUSED
Craig swooped upon the Severences the next afternoon. His arrivals were always swoopings—a swift descent on a day when he was not expected; or, if the day was forearranged, then the hour would be a surprise. It was a habit with him, a habit deliberately formed. He liked to take people unawares, to create a flurry, reasoning that he, quick of eye and determined of purpose, could not but profit by any confusion. He was always in a hurry—that is, he seemed to be. In this also there was deliberation. It does not follow because a man is in a hurry that he is an important and busy person; no more does it follow that a man is an inconsequential procrastinator if he is leisurely and dilatory. The significance of action lies in intent. Some men can best gain their ends by creating an impression that they are extremely lazy, others by creating the impression that they are exceedingly energetic. The important point is to be on the spot at the moment most favorable for gaining the desired advantage; and it will be found that of the men who get what they want in this world, both those who seem to hasten and those who seem to lounge are always at the right place at the right time.
It best fitted Craig, by nature impatient, noisily aggressive, to adopt the policy of rush. He arrived before time usually, fumed until he had got everybody into that nervous state in which men, and women, too, will yield more than they ever would in the kindly, melting mood. Though he might stay hours, he, each moment, gave the impression that everybody must speak quickly or he would be gone, might quickly be