Ten dollars? Richard fumbled for his purse. He had met her walking alone in the Avenue; she had said that she must get shoes. Hundreds of other men were presumably buying their wives shoes, up and down the brilliant street. But Richard found the adventure shaking to the soul.
“They’re lovely shoes,” Harriet said, as they walked out into the sunshine. She told him that she was to meet Nina at his mother’s at five. Richard, with sudden eagerness, wondered if she would spend the interval in having tea somewhere, but instead they went into a bookshop, and she carried a new book triumphantly away. “It’s a frightful day in town,” Harriet said, “and if we’re a little early we may all get away to the country that much sooner!”
She established herself contentedly beside him when they did finally start for Crownlands. Ward, beside Hansen, did most of the talking; Nina was silent, and Harriet noticed that she was very pale. Richard was repeating to himself one phrase all the way; a phrase that he found so thrilling and absorbing that it was enough to keep him from speaking aloud, or listening to what the others said.
“I love her—I love her—I love her!” thought Richard. And sometimes he glanced sidewise at her, her beautiful hair rippling in thick waves under the thin veil, her face a little pale from the heat of the day, her glorious eyes faintly shadowed. When the swift movement of the car brought her shoulder against his, their eyes met for a smiling second, and it seemed to Richard that his heart brimmed with the most delicious emotion that he had ever known.
Nina complained of a headache when they reached home, and went early to bed. Harriet, when she had tubbed and changed to an evening gown, glanced in at Nina, and thought the girl asleep. There were men guests for dinner, and afterward there was bridge. Harriet sat with Madame Carter for awhile, for the old lady had also dined upstairs, went about the house upon her usual errands, and, going to her own room, found Nina reading, at about ten o’clock. Nina did not look up or speak as Harriet came in.
The door that led to Richard’s room was not only unlocked, but actually ajar. Harriet gave it a surprised glance, and spoke to Nina, in the next room.
“Nina, did you unlock this door?”
“What door?” Nina called. “Oh, yes!” she added. “I did.”
“Oh,” Harriet murmured. And she stepped to the door, and looked into Richard’s room.
It was a sort of upstairs sitting room, furnished simply, in man fashion, with deep leather chairs on each side of the fireplace, broad tables carrying only the essential lamps and ashtrays, a shabby desk where Richard kept personal papers, and bookshelves crammed with novels. Harriet, making a timid round, saw Balzac and Dickens, Dumas and Fielding, several Shakespeares and a complete Meredith, jostling elbows with modern novels in bright jackets, and yellow French romances losing their paper covers.