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26. The Moods Of Mollie
Early the following morning Margaret Halley called upon Mollie Gretna.
Mollie's personality did not attract Margaret. The two had nothing in common, but
Margaret was well aware of the nature of the tie which had bound Rita Irvin to this
empty and decadent representative of English aristocracy. Mollie Gretna was
entitled to append the words "The Honorable" to her name, but not only did she
refrain from doing so but she even preferred to be known as "Gretna"--the style of
one of the family estates.
This pseudonym she had adopted shortly after her divorce, when she had
attempted to take up a stage career. But although the experience had proved
disastrous, she had retained the nom de guerre, and during the past four years
had several times appeared at war charity garden- parties as a classical dancer--to
the great delight of the guests and greater disgust of her family. Her maternal
uncle, head of her house, said to be the most blase member of the British peerage
and known as "the noble tortoise," was generally considered to have pronounced
the final verdict upon his golden-haired niece when he declared "she is almost
Mollie received her visitor with extravagant expressions of welcome.
"My dear Miss Halley," she cried, "how perfectly sweet of you to come to see me!
of course, I can guess what you have called about. Look! I have every paper
published this morning in London! Every one! Oh! poor, darling little Rita! What can
have become of her!"
Tears glistened upon her carefully made-up lashes, and so deep did her grief
seem to be that one would never have suspected that she had spent the greater
part of the night playing bridge at a "mixed" club in Dover Street, and from thence
had proceeded to a military "breakfast-dance."
"It is indeed a ghastly tragedy," said Margaret. "It seems incredible that she cannot
be traced."
"Absolutely incredible!" declared Mollie, opening a large box of cigarettes. "Will you
have one, dear?"
"No, thanks. By the way, they are not from Buenos Ayres, I suppose?"
Mollie, cigarette in hand, stared, round-eyed, and:
"Oh, my dear Miss Halley!" she cried, "what an idea! Such a funny thing to
Margaret smiled coolly.
"Poor Sir Lucien used to smoke cigarettes of that kind," she explained, "and I
thought perhaps you smoked them, too."
Mollie shook her head and lighted the cigarette.
"He gave me one once, and it made me feel quite sick," she declared.
Margaret glanced at the speaker, and knew immediately that Mollie had
determined to deny all knowledge of the drug coterie. Because there is no problem
of psychology harder than that offered by a perverted mind, Margaret was misled