“All right—I won’t.”
As soon as it was possible, without obvious effort, Romeo made his escape, after shaking hands with everyone and promising to come again very soon. “I’ll bring Jule next time. Good-night!”
Once outside, he ran toward home like a hunted wild animal, hoping with all his heart that Juliet was still asleep. It was probable, for more than once she had slept on the sofa all night.
But the kindly fate that had hitherto guided him suddenly failed him now. When he reached home, panting and breathless, having discovered that it was almost midnight, a drooping little figure in a torn kimona opened the door and fell, weeping into his arms.
“Oh, Romie! Romie!” cried Juliet, hysterically. “Where have you been?”
“There,” he said, patting her shoulder awkwardly. “Don’t take on so, Jule. You were asleep, so I went out for a walk. I met Colonel Kent and Allison and I’ve been with them all the evening. I’m sorry I stayed so long.”
“I haven’t lied,” he continued, to himself, exultantly. “Every word is the literal truth.”
“Oh, Romie,” sobbed Juliet, with a fresh burst of tears, “I don’t care where you’ve been as long as I’ve got you back! We’re twins and we’ve got to stand by each other!”
Romeo gently extricated himself from her clinging arms, then stooped to kiss her wet cheek. “You bet!” he whispered.
Contrary to the usual custom of woman, Isabel was ready fully an hour before the appointed time. She stood before the fire, buttoning a new glove with the sense of abundant leisure that new gloves demand. The dancing flames picked out flashes of light from the silver spangles of her gown and sent them into the farthest corners of the room. A long white plume nestled against her dark hair and shaded her face from the light, but, even in the shadow, she was brilliant, for her eyes sparkled and the high colour bloomed upon her cheeks.
Madame Bernard and Rose sat near by, openly admiring her. She was almost childish in her delight at the immediate prospect and could scarcely wait for Allison to call for her. She went to the window and peered eagerly into the darkness, waiting.
“Isabel, my dear,” said Madame, kindly, “never wait at the window for an unmarried man. Nor,” she added as an afterthought, “for a married man, unless he happens to be your own husband.”
Isabel turned back into the room, smiling, her colour a little brighter than before. “Why not?”
“Men keep best,” returned Madame, somewhat enigmatically, “in a cool, dry atmosphere. If you’ll remember that fact, it may save you trouble in the years to come.”
“Such worldly wisdom,” laughed Rose, “from such an unworldly woman!”
“I do love the theatre,” Isabel sighed, “and I haven’t seen a play for a long time.”