THERE IS NO ONE I LIKE BETTER THAN PHYLLIS.
Phyllis Ayrton had spent a considerable time pondering over that problem of how best to save a man and a woman from destruction-- social, perhaps; eternal, for certain. She felt that it had been laid upon her to save them both, and she remembered the case of one Jonah, a prophet, who, in endeavoring to escape from the disagreeable duty with which he had been intrusted, had had an experience that was practically unique, even among prophets. She would not try to evade her responsibility in this matter.
A few days after Herbert Courtland had witnessed by the side of Ella the representation of "Carmen," he had met Phyllis at an At Home. He had seen her in the distance through a vista of crowded rooms, and had crushed his way to her side. He could scarcely fail to see the little light that came to her face as she put out her hand to him, nor could her companion of the moment--he was one of the coming men in science, consequently like most coming men, he had been forced into a prominent place in the drawing room--fail to perceive that his farewell moment with that pretty Miss Ayrton had come. She practically turned her back upon him when Herbert Courtland came up.
For some moments they chatted together, and then it occurred to him that she might like some iced coffee. His surmise proved correct, and as there was at that moment a stream of people endeavoring to avoid the entertainment of the high-class pianoforte player which was threatened in a neighboring apartment, Phyllis and her companion had no trouble in slipping aside from the panic-stricken people into the tea room.
It was a sultry day, and the French windows of the room were open. It was Phyllis who discovered that there was a narrow veranda, with iron- work covered with creepers, running halfway round the house from window to window; and when he suggested to her that they might drink their coffee on this veranda, she hailed the suggestion as a very happy one. How did it come that none of the rest of the people had thought of that? she wondered.
In another instant they were standing together at the space between the windows outside, the long-leaved creepers mingling with the decorations of her hat, and making a very effective background for his well-shaped head.
For the next half-hour people were intermittently coming to one of the windows, putting their heads out and then turning away, the girls with gentle little pursings of the mouth and other forms that the sneer feminine assumes; the men with winks and an occasional chuckle, suggestive of an exchange of confidence too deep for words.
One woman had poked her head out--it was gray at the roots and golden at the tips--and asked her companion in a voice that had a large circumference where was Mrs. Linton.