“You have me to reckon with, Phil; I am the one to consider and the one to pass judgment. You may be able to appease mamma, but it is I who will determine whether it is to be or not to be. Let us drop the subject. For the present, we are having a charming drive. Is it not beautiful?”
To his amazement and to hers, when they returned late in the afternoon Mrs. Garrison asked him to come back and dine.
“I must be dreaming,” he said to himself, as he drove away. “She’s as shrewd as the deuce, and there’s a motive in her sudden friendliness. I’m beginning to wonder how far I’ll drop and how hard I’ll hit when this affair explodes. Well, it’s worth a mighty strenuous effort. If I win, I’m the luckiest fool on earth; if I lose, the surprise won’t kill me.” At eight he presented himself again at the Garrison house and found that he was not the only guest. He was introduced to a number of people, three of whom were Americans, the others French. These were Hon. and Mrs. Horace Knowlton and their daughter, Miss Knowlton, M. and Mme. de Cartier, Mile. Louise Gaudelet and Count Raoul de Vincent.
“Dorothy tells me you are to be in Brussels for several weeks, and I was sure you would be glad to know some of the people here. They can keep you from being lonesome, and they will not permit you to feel that you are a stranger in a strange land,” said Mrs. Garrison. Quentin bowed deeply to her, flashed a glance of understanding at Dorothy, and then surveyed the strangers he was to meet. Quick intelligence revealed her motive in inviting him to meet these people, and out of sheer respect for her shrewdness he felt like applauding. She was cleverly providing him with acquaintances that any man might wish to possess, and she was doing it so early that the diplomacy of her action was as plain as day to at least two people.
“Mamma is clever, isn’t she?” Dorothy said to him, merrily, as they entered the dining-room. Neither was surprised to find that he had been chosen to take her out. It was in the game.
“She is very kind. I can’t say how glad I am to meet these people. My stay here can’t possibly be dull,” he said. “Mile. Gaudelet is stunning, isn’t she?”
“Do you really think so?” she asked, and she did not see his smile.
The dinner was a rare one, the company brilliant, but there was to occur, before the laughter in the wine had spent itself, an incident in which Philip Quentin figured so conspicuously that his wit as a dinner guest ceased to be the topic of subdued side talk, and he took on a new personality.
FROM THE POTS AND PLANTS