What difference can a few more make? After she's seen a dozen she gets used to them."No sooner had Herbert left him than the custodian of the treasure himself selected the photographs he would display. In them the young woman he had--from the front row of the orchestra--so ardently admired appeared in a new light. To Cochran they seemed at once to render her more kindly, more approachable; to show her as she really was, the sort of girl any youth would find it extremely difficult not to love. Cochran found it extremely easy. The photographs gave his imagination all the room it wanted. He believed they also gave him an insight into her real character that was denied to anybody else.
He had always credited her with all the virtues; he now endowed her with every charm of mind and body. In a week to the two photographs he had selected from the loan collection for purposes of display and to give Herbert melancholy pleasure he had added three more. In two weeks there were half a dozen. In a month, nobly framed in silver, in leather of red, green, and blue, the entire collection smiled upon him from every part of his bedroom. For he now kept them where no one but himself could see them. No longer was he of a mind to share his borrowed treasure with others--not even with the rightful owner.
Chester Griswold, spurred on by Aline Proctor, who wanted to build a summer home on Long Island, was motoring with Post, of Post & Constant, in the neighborhood of Westbury. Post had pointed out several houses designed by his firm, which he hoped might assist Griswold in making up his mind as to the kind of house he wanted; but none they had seen had satisfied his client.
"What I want is a cheap house," explained the young millionaire.
"I don't really want a house at all," he complained. "It's Miss Proctor's idea. When we are married I intend to move into my mother's town house, but Miss Proctor wants one for herself in the country. I've agreed to that; but it must be small and it must be cheap.""Cheap" was a word that the clients of Post & Constant never used; but Post knew the weaknesses of some of the truly rich, and he knew also that no house ever built cost only what the architect said it would cost.
"I know the very house you want!" he exclaimed. "One of our young men owns it. He made it over from an old farmhouse. It's very well arranged; we've used his ground-plan several times and it works out splendidly. If he's not at home, I'11 show you over the place myself. And if you like the house he's the man to build you one."When they reached Cochran's home he was at Garden City playing golf, but the servant knew Mr. Post, and to him and his client threw open every room in the house.
"Now, this," exclaimed the architect enthusiastically, "is the master's bedroom. In your case it would probably be your wife's room and you would occupy the one adjoining, which Cochran now uses as a guest-room. As you see, they are entirely cut off from-"Mr. Griswold did not see. Up to that moment he had given every appearance of being both bored and sulky. Now his attention was entirely engaged--but not upon the admirable simplicity of Mr. Cochran's ground-plan, as Mr. Post had hoped. Instead, the eyes of the greatest catch in America were intently regarding a display of photographs that smiled back at him from every corner of the room. Not only did he regard these photographs with a savage glare, but he approached them and carefully studied the inscriptions scrawled across the face of each.
Post himself cast a glance at the nearest photographs, and then hastily manoeuvred his client into the hall and closed the door.
"We will now," he exclaimed, "visit the butler's pantry, which opens upon the dining-room and kitchen, thus saving--"But Griswold did not hear him. Without giving another glance at the house he stamped out of it and, plumping himself down in the motor-car, banged the door. Not until Post had driven him well into New York did he make any comment.
"What did you say," he then demanded, "is the name of the man who owns that last house we saw?"Post told him.
"I never heard of him!" said Griswold as though he were delivering young Cochran's death sentence. "Who is he?""He's an architect in our office," said Post. "We think a lot of him. He'll leave us soon, of course. The best ones always do. His work is very popular. So is he.""I never heard of him," repeated Griswold. Then, with sudden heat, he added savagely: "But I mean to to-night."When Griswold had first persuaded Aline Proctor to engage herself to him he had suggested that, to avoid embarrassment, she should tell him the names of the other men to whom she had been engaged.
"What kind of embarrassment would that avoid?""If I am talking to a man," said Griswold, "and he knows the woman I'm going to marry was engaged to him and I don't know that, he has me at a disadvantage.""I don't see that he has," said Aline. "If we suppose, for the sake of argument, that to marry me is desirable, I would say that the man who was going to marry me had the advantage over the one I had declined to marry.""I want to know who those men are," explained Griswold, "because I want to avoid them. I don't want to talk to them. I don't want even to know them.""I don't see how I can help you," said Aline. "I haven't the slightest objection to telling you the names of the men I have cared for, if I can remember them, but I certainly do not intend to tell you the name of any man who cared for me enough to ask me to marry him. That's his secret, not mine--certainly not yours."Griswold thought he was very proud. He really was very vain; and as jealousy is only vanity in its nastiest development he was extremely jealous. So he persisted.
"Will you do this?" he demanded. "If I ever ask you, 'Is that one of the men you cared for?' will you tell me?""If you wish it," said Aline; "but I can't see any health in it.