“Oh, what shall I do?” she whispered. “He trusts me to protect her! Oh, why didn’t I—the moment I knew that Royal was thinking of her—why didn’t I go to him then, and make a clean breast of it all! Now—now I’ve promised! And they trust me and love me—and what shall I do! Oh, God,” whispered Harriet, sinking on her knees beside the bed, “You know that I am good—You know that I can really help them all—can really protect the girl! You know how I have chosen what was fine and good, all these years, how I have longed for an opportunity to be useful and happy! Don’t let him come into my life again, and spoil it again. Don’t let Richard Carter lose faith in me, and despise me! I don’t know what’s the matter with me,” sobbed Harriet, burying her brimming eyes in the pillows; “I never cry, I haven’t cried like this for years and years! I think I’m losing my mind!”
The move to Huntington was made quickly and quietly, and lazy weeks followed, to Harriet weeks of almost cloudless content. She and Nina walked and rode, swam and practised their tennis stroke, paddled about in a canoe, motored over miles of exquisite country. Madame Carter was often with them, suggesting, disapproving, meddling, awaiting her chance to score. Ward, early in August, after a serious talk with Harriet, joined some friends for a motor run of three thousand miles, and presently was sending them post cards from Monterey and Tahoe. There was naturally no entertaining or formal social life for the family this summer, but Richard almost always brought men down for golf, over the week-ends, and seemed, if quiet and reserved, to be well content.
They had been in the new home only a few days when Harriet had reason to stop short in a busy morning of unpacking with one hand upon her heart, and a great satisfaction in her eyes. Nina, reading from a note from Royal Blondin, announced the sensational news that he had broken his ankle. He was with friends at Newport, and must remain there now for weeks, perhaps a month. Nina was please to write him, and to give his regard to Miss Field, and ask her not to forget him.
Harriet was quite willing to overlook the delicate menace of the message for the sake of the other news. For several weeks they were safe. Nina did not know the family Royal had been visiting, there was a long interval before she could possibly see him again. He would write to the girl, of course, and Harriet knew with what absorbing emotion she would look for his letters. But Nina was young and Nina wrote wretchedly, and anything might happen, thought Harriet, consoling herself with a vague argument that was in itself youthful, too.