He became suddenly angry. “Look here, Margaret,” he cried, “you don’t suspect me of—”
She put her fingers on his lips and laughed quietly at him. “You’d better run along now. I’m going to hurry away to grandmother, to try to repair the damage you did.” She rose and called, “Lucia! Lucia!” The round, rosy, rather slovenly Miss Severence appeared in the little balcony—the only part of the house in view from where they sat.
“Telephone the stables for the small victoria,” called Margaret.
“Mother’s out in it,” replied Lucia.
“Then the small brougham.”
“I want that. Why don’t you take the electric?”
Lucia disappeared. Margaret turned upon the deeply-impressed Craig. “What’s the matter?” asked she, though she knew.
“I can’t get used to this carriage business,” said he. “I don’t like it. Where the private carriage begins just there democracy ends. It is the parting of the ways. People who are driving have to look down; people who aren’t have to look up.”
“Nonsense!” said Margaret, though it seemed to her to be the truth.
“Nonsense, of course,” retorted Craig. “But nonsense rules the world.” He caught her roughly by the arm. “I warn you now, when we—”
“Run along, Josh,” cried she, extricating herself and laughing, and with a wave of the hand she vanished into the shrubbery. As soon as she was beyond the danger of having to continue that curious conversation she walked less rapidly. “I wonder what he really thinks,” she said to herself. “I wonder what I really think. I suspect we’d both be amazed at ourselves and at each other if we knew.”
Arrived at her grandmother’s she had one more and huger cause for wonder. There were a dozen people in the big salon, the old lady presiding at the tea-table in high good humor. “Ah—here you are, Margaret,” cried she. “Why didn’t you bring your young man?”
“He’s too busy for frivolity,” replied Margaret.
“I saw him this afternoon,” continued Madam Bowker, talking aside to her alone when the ripples from the new stone in the pond had died away. “He’s what they call a pretty rough customer. But he has his good points.”
“You liked him better?” said the astonished Margaret.
“I disliked him less,” corrected the old lady. “He’s not a man any one”—this with emphasis and a sharp glance at her granddaughter— “likes. He neither likes nor is liked. He’s too much of an ambition for such petty things. People of purpose divide their fellows into two classes, the useful and the useless. They seek allies among the useful, they avoid the useless.”
“Why do you laugh, child? Because you don’t believe it?”
Margaret sighed. “No, because I don’t want to believe it.”
THE EMBASSY GARDEN PARTY