When a Man Marries
A Clash And A Kiss
The clash that came that evening had been threatening for some time. Take an immovable
body, represented by Mr. Harbison and his square jaw, and an irresistible force, Jimmy
and his weight, and there is bound to be trouble.
The real fault was Jim's. He had gone entirely mad again over Bella, and thrown
prudence to the winds. He mooned at her across the dinner table, and waylaid her on the
stairs or in the back halls, just to hear her voice when she ordered him out of her way. He
telephoned for flowers and candy for her quite shamelessly, and he got out a book of
photographs that they had taken on their wedding journey, and kept it on the library table.
The sole concession he made to our presumptive relationship was to bring me the
responsibility for everything that went wrong, and his shirts for buttons.
The first I heard of the trouble was from Dal. He waylaid me in the hall after dinner that
night, and his face was serious.
"I'm afraid we can't keep it up very long, Kit," he said. "With Jim trailing Bella all over
the house, and the old lady keener every day, it's bound to come out somehow. And that
isn't all. Jim and Harbison had a set-to today--about you."
"About me!" I repeated. "Oh, I dare say I have been falling short again. What was Jim
doing? Abusing me?"
Dal looked cautiously over his shoulder, but no one was near.
"It seems that the gentle Bella has been unusually beastly today to Jim, and--I believe
she's jealous of you, Kit. Jim followed her up to the roof before dinner with a box of
flowers, and she tossed them over the parapet. She said, I believe, that she didn't want his
flowers; he could buy them for you, and be damned to him, or some lady-like
"Jim is a jellyfish," I said contemptuously. "What did he say?"
"He said he only cared for one woman, and that was Bella; that he never had really cared
for you and never would, and that divorce courts were not unmitigated evils if they
showed people the way to real happiness. Which wouldn't amount to anything if
Harbison had not been in the tent, trying to sleep!"
Dal did not know all the particulars, but it seems that relations between Jim and Mr.
Harbison were rather strained. Bella had left the roof and Jim and the Harbison man came
face to face in the door of the tent. According to Dal, little had been said, but Jim, bound
by his promise to me, could not explain, and could only stammer something about being
an old friend of Miss Knowles. And Tom had replied shortly that it was none of his
business, but that there were some things friendship hardly justified, and tried to pass
Jim. Jim was instantly enraged; he blocked the door to the roof and demanded to know
what the other man meant. There were two or three versions of the answer he got. The
general purport was that Mr. Harbison had no desire to explain further, and that the
situation was forced on him. But if he insisted--when a man systematically ignored and