4. The Gamblers
"Won't you come over to see me to-night? Just a friendly little game, my dear-
-our own crowd, you know."
There was something in the purring tone of the invitation of the woman across
the hall from Constance Dunlap's apartment that aroused her curiosity.
"Thank you. I believe I will," answered Constance. "It's lonely in a big city
"Indeed it is," agreed Bella LeMar. "I've been watching you for some time and
wondering how you stand it. Now be sure to come, won't you?"
"I shall be glad to do so," assured Constance, as they reached their floor and
parted at the elevator door.
She had been watching the other woman, too, although she had said nothing
"A friendly little game," repeated Constance to herself. "That sounds as if it
had the tang of an adventure in it. I'll go."
The Mayfair Arms, in which she had taken a modest suite of rooms, was a
rather recherche apartment, and one of her chief delights since she had been
there had been in watching the other occupants.
There had been much to interest her in the menage across the hall. Mrs.
Bella LeMar, as she called herself, was of a type rather common in the city,
an attractive widow on the safe side of forty, well- groomed, often daringly
gowned. Her brown eyes snapped vivacity, and the pert little nose and racy
expression of the mouth confirmed the general impression that Mrs. LeMar
liked the good things of life.
Quite naturally, Constance observed, her neighbor had hosts of friends who
often came early and stayed late, friends who seemed to exude, as it were,
an air of prosperity and high living. Clearly, she was a woman to cultivate.
Constance felt even more interest in her, now that Mrs. LeMar had pursued a
bowing acquaintance to the point of an unsolicited invitation.
"A friendly little game," she speculated. "What IS the game?"
That night found Constance at the buzzer beside the heavy mahogany door
across the hall. She wore a new evening gown of warm red. Her face glowed
with heightened color, and her nerves were on the qui vive for the unlocking
at last of the mystery of the fascinating Mrs. LeMar.
"So glad to see you, my dear," smiled Bella, holding out her hand engagingly.
"You are just in time."
Already several of the guests had arrived. There was an air of bonhomie as
Bella presented them to Constance--a stocky, red-faced man with a wide
chest and narrow waist, Ross Watson; a tall, sloping-shouldered man who
inclined his head forward earnestly when he talked to a lady and spoke with
animation, Haddon Halsey; and a fair-haired, baby-blue eyed little woman
gowned in becoming pink, Mrs. Lansing Noble.