When Natalie roused from her nap that Sunday afternoon, it was to find Marion
gone, and Graham waiting for her in her boudoir. Through the open door she
could see him pacing back and forward and something in his face made her
vaguely uneasy. She assumed the child-like smile which so often preserved her
from the disagreeable.
"What a sleep I've had," she said, and yawned prettily. "I'll have one of your
cigarets, darling, and then let's take a walk."
Graham knew Natalie's idea of a walk, which was three or four blocks along one
of the fashionable avenues, with the car within hailing distance. At the end of the
fourth block she always declared that her shoes pinched, and called the
"You don't really want to walk, mother."
"Of course I do, with you. Ring for Madeleine, dear."
She was uncomfortable. Graham had been very queer lately. He would have
long, quiet spells, and then break out in an uncontrollable irritation, generally at
the servants. But Graham did not ring for Madeleine. He lighted a cigaret for
Natalie, and standing off, surveyed her. She was very pretty. She was prettier
than Toots. That pale blue wrapper, or whatever it was, made her rather
exquisite. And Natalie, curled up on her pale rose chaise longue, set to work as
deliberately to make a conquest of her son as she had ever done to conquer
Rodney Page, or the long list of Rodney's predecessors.
"You're growing very handsome, you know, boy," she said. "Almost too
handsome. A man doesn't need good looks. They're almost a handicap. Look at
"They haven't hurt him any, I should say."
"I don't know." She reflected, eyeing her cigaret. "He presumes on them, rather.
And a good many men never think a handsome man has any brains."
"Well, he fools them there, too."
She raised her eyebrows slightly.
"Tell me about the new plant, Graham."
"I don't know anything about it yet," he said bluntly. "And you wouldn't be really
interested if I did."
"That's rather disagreeable of you."
"No; I'm just trying to talk straight, for once. We - you and I - we always talk
around things. I don't know why."
"You look terribly like your father just now. You are quite savage."
"That's exactly what I mean, mother. You don't say father is savage. God knows
he isn't that. You just say I act like father, and that I am savage."
Natalie blew a tiny cloud of cigaret smoke, and watched it for a moment.
"You sound fearfully involved. But never mind about that. I daresay I've done
something; I don't know what, but of course I am guilty."
"Why did you bring Marion here to-day, mother?"