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“Come in, Phil,” he said quietly, offering his hand. He sat down at his desk again and formally indicated the chair nearest it. His manner was kindly and full of an old-fashioned dignity, indicating neither indifference nor encouragement, and this seemed to make Philip Gallatin’s position if anything more difficult and painful. Instead of sitting, Gallatin turned toward the window and stood there Mathematics Summer Courses.

“I’ve come back, Uncle John,” he muttered.

It was the custom at Richard Pennington’s dinners for the men to follow the ladies at once to the library or drawing-room if they cared to, for Nellie Pennington liked smoking and made no bones about it. People who dined with her were  pleased, and this included the use of tobacco in all parts of the house. She was not running a kindergarten, she insisted, and the mothers of timorous buds were amply warned that they must look to the habits of their tender offspring. And so after the ices were served, when the women departed, some of their dinner partners followed them into the other rooms, finding more pleasure in the cigarette à deux than in the stable talk at the dismantled dining-table.


Auction tables were formed in the library and the company divided itself into parties of three or four, each with its own interests. Gallatin soon learned that it might prove difficult to carry his resolution into effect, for Miss Loring was the center of a group which seemed to defy disruption, and Coleman Van Duyn immediately pre-empted the nearest chair, from which nothing less than dynamite would have availed to dislodge him. Gallatin had heard that Van Duyn had been with the Lorings in Canada, and had wondered vaguely whether this fact could have anything to do with that gentleman’s sudden change of manner toward himself.
Gallatin was slowly shaking his head.

“Not that—only——”

“I know it,” she said proudly. “You can’t hide from everybody, Phil. I still remember those cases you won when you were just out of law-school—that political one[141] and the other of the drunkard indicted on circumstantial evidence——”

“I was interested in that,” he muttered.

What was this he was saying about letting go purposely. What—but she had reached the ends of friendliness and the beginnings of curiosity.

[143]

“No, you’re not a fool, Phil. You sha’n’t call yourself names.” And then, “You say you weren’t bothered—much?”

“No. Things had got a good deal easier for me. I was beginning to feel hopeful for the future. It had cost me something, but I had got my grip. I had started in at the office again, and Kenyon had given me some important work to do. Good old Uncle John! He seemed to know that I was trying.”

“Nothing that I’m aware of passed between us,” he said quietly. “She was very civil.”

“As civil as a cucumber—no more—no less. How could I know that she didn’t want to go in to dinner with you vacation rentals?”

“You heard?”
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