“Lovely. He always comes to us for Sunday dinner,” Linda said. “And he always asks for you!” she added, with some significance. David Davenport, Fred’s somewhat heavy and plodding brother, a successful Brooklyn dentist, had never made any secret of his feeling for the beautiful Harriet. “David is a dear,” his sister-in-law said, “the most comfortable person to have about! And he is doing remarkably well. He is going to make some woman very happy, Harriet. He and Fred both have that—well, that domestic quality that wears pretty well! We’ve promised to give the children a picnic on the ocean a week from Sunday, and you’d be perfectly touched to see how David is planning for it. We’re to spend Saturday night with him—”
“I like David!” Harriet said, in answer to some faint indication of reproach in her sister’s tone. But immediately afterward she added, in a lower voice: “Ward Carter has had Royal Blondin at the house this week!”
Linda’s rocker stopped as if by shock. There was an electric silence. When she spoke again it was with awe and incredulity and something like terror in her tone.
“Royal Blondin! He’s in England!”
“He was,” Harriet said, drily. “He’s been in New York for two years now.”
“Harriet! Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t know, Sis. He came to tea last week—stepped up and held out his hand—I hadn’t even seen him since that night in your Watertown house—”
“I know—I remember!” she said in a whisper. And she added fervently, “I hoped he was dead!”
“So did I!” Harriet said, simply.
There was another moment of silence. Then Linda said:
“Well, what about it? What did he say—what did you say?”
“Nothing very significant; what was there to say?” Harriet answered. “Our meeting was entirely accidental. He had no idea of finding me; was as surprised as I was.” She stopped abruptly, musing on some unpalatable thought. “You wouldn’t know him, Linda. He is a perfect freak,” she said, presently, “talks about Karma and Nirvana and I don’t know what all! Whether he’s a Theosophist or a Brahmin I don’t know—”
“For Heaven’s sake!” Mrs. Davenport commented, in healthy surprise and contempt.
“New thought, and poetry, and the occult, and Tagore and the Russian novelists, and the Russian music,” Harriet said, “he lectures about them and he has been extremely successful! He wears pongee coats and red ties, and has his hair long, and—well, you never saw women act so about anything or anybody!”
“Royal Blondin!” Linda exclaimed, aghast. “Perhaps their making fools of themselves will make it not worth his while to bother you,” she speculated, hopefully.
“He’s having dinner with the Carters to-night,” Harriet said. To this Linda could only ejaculate again an amazed:
“Royal Blondin!” And as Harriet merely nodded, in the gloom, she added, vigorously, “Why, he hadn’t a penny! He was always an idiot—he didn’t have enough to eat ten years ago!”