Natalie had had a dull Spring. With Graham's departure for camp she moved to
the country house, carrying with her vast amounts of luggage, the innumerable
thing, large and small, which were necessary for her comfort. The installing of
herself in her new and luxurious rooms gave her occupation for several days.
She liked her new environment. She liked herself in it. The rose-colored taffetas
of her bedroom brought out the delicacy of her skin. The hangings of her bed,
small and draped, reflected a faint color into her face, and the morning inspection
with a hand-mirror, which always followed her coffee, showed her at her best
instead of her worst.
Of her dressing-room she was not so sure. It's ivory-paneled walls, behind whose
sliding panels were hung her gowns, her silk and satin chiffon negligees, her
wraps and summer furs - all the vast paraphernalia with which she armed herself,
as a knight with armor - the walls seemed cold. She hated old-blue, but old-blue
Rodney had insisted upon.
He had held a bit of the taffeta to her cheek.
"It is delicious, Natalie," he said. "It makes your eyes as blue as the sea."
"Always a decorator!" she had replied, smiling.
And, standing in her blue room, the first day of her arrival, and frowning at her
reflection, she remembered his reply.
"Because I have no right, with you, to be anything else." He had stopped for a
moment, and had absently folded and refolded the bit of blue silk. Suddenly he
said, "What do you think I am going to do, now that our work together is done?
Have you ever thought about that, Natalie?"
"You are coming often to enjoy your handiwork?"
He had made an impulsive gesture.
"I'm not coming. I've been seeing too much of you as it is. If you want the truth,
I'm just wretchedly unhappy, Natalie. You know I'm in love with you, don't you?"
"I believe you think you are."
"Don't laugh." He almost snarled. "I may laugh at my idiocy, but you haven't any
right to. I know I'm ridiculous. I've known it for months. But it's pretty serious for
He had meant it. There could be no doubt of that. It is the curious quality of very
selfish women that they inspire a certain sort of love. They are likely to be loved
often, even tho the devotion they inspire is neither deep nor lasting. Big and
single-hearted women are loved by one man, and that forever.
Natalie had not laughed, but she had done what was almost as bad. She had
patted him on the arm.
"Don't talk like that," she said, gently. "You are all I have now, Rodney, and I
don't want to lose you. I'm suffering horribly these days. You're my greatest
"I've heard you say that of a chair."