Natalie was in bed when he went up-stairs. Through the door of his dressing-
room he could see her lying, surrounded by papers. Natalie's handsome bed was
always covered with things, her handkerchief, a novel, her silk dressing-gown
flung over the footboard, sometimes bits of dress materials and lace. Natalie did
most of her planning in bed.
He went in and, clearing a space, sat down on the foot of the bed, facing her. Her
hair was arranged in a loose knot on top of her head, and there was a tiny space,
perhaps a quarter of an inch, slightly darker than the rest. He realized with a little
start that she had had her hair touched up during his absence. Still, she looked
very pretty, her skin slightly glistening with its night's bath of cold cream, her slim
arms lying out on the blue silk eiderdown coverlet.
"I told Doctor Haverford to-night that we would like to give him a car, Natalie," he
began directly. It was typical of him, the "we."
"A car? What for?"
"To ride about in, my dear. It's rather a large parish, you know. And I don't feel
exactly comfortable seeing him tramping along when most people are awheel.
He's not very young."
"He'll kill himself, that's all."
"Well, that's rather up to Providence, of course."
"You are throwing a sop to Providence, aren't you?" she asked shrewdly.
"Throwing bread on the waters! I daresay he angled for it. You're easy, Clay.
Give you a good dinner - it was a nice dinner, wasn't it?"
"A very nice dinner," he assented. But at the tone she looked up.
"Well, what was wrong?" she demanded. "I saw when I went out that you were
angry about something. Your face was awful."
"Oh, come now, Natalie," he protested. "It wasn't anything of the sort. The dinner
was all right. The guests were - all right. I may have unconsciously resented your
attitude about Doctor Haverford. Certainly he didn't angle for it, and I had no idea
of throwing a sop to Providence."
"That isn't what was wrong at dinner." "Do you really want me to tell you?" "Not if
it's too disagreeable."
"Good heavens, Natalie. One would think I bullied you!"
"Oh, no, you don't bully. It's worse. It's the way you look. Your face sets. Well?"
"I didn't feel unpleasant. It's rather my misfortune that my face - "
"Didn't you like my gown?"
"Very much. It seemed a trifle low, but you know I always like your clothes." He
was almost pathetically anxious to make up to her for that moment's disloyalty in
"There!" she said, brushing the papers aside. "Now we're getting at it. Was I
anything like as low as Audrey Valentine? Of course not! Her back - You just
drive me to despair, Clay. Nothing I do pleases you. The very tone of that
secretary of yours to-day, when I told her about that over-draft - it was positively