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   Chapter 21 THE OTHER GIRL

The Twelfth Hour By Ada Leverson Characters: 9007

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Savile had received a note from Dolly, asking him to go and see her in the square. Savile was feeling rather sore because Dolly and her French friends had gone to a fancy ball the night before, a kind of semi-juvenile party where all the children wore powdered hair. Dolly had offered to get him an invitation, but he scornfully refused, knowing she was going to dance the cotillon with Robert de Saules.

So depressed had he seemed that evening that Sylvia had played "Home, Sweet Home" to him five or six times. It made him miserable, which he thoroughly enjoyed, and he was feeling altogether rather cynical and bitter when he got Dolly's little note. He had heard nothing more of Chetwode, and intended to see Jasmyn Vere before he left; there was only another week before the end of his holidays. Should he be cool to Dolly? or not let her know how he felt about the fancy ball?

As soon as he arrived he thought she looked different. The powder had been imperfectly brushed out of her hair; also she had been crying. She greeted him very gently. She wore a pretty white dress and a pale blue sash.

"I suppose you've been very happy these holidays?" said Dolly.

"Oh, I don't know! I've had a great deal to-to see to," said Savile.

"I suppose you see a great deal of The Other Girl?" said Dolly.

Considering that he had only been once to Wales to hear his idol sing at a concert, there was a certain satisfaction in giving Dolly to understand that he hadn't really had half a bad time; so he smiled and didn't answer.

"Is she grown up?" asked Dolly.

Savile was cautiously reserved on the subject, but seemed to think he might go so far as to say she was grown up.

"Did you have fun last night?" he then asked.

"No. I was simply miserable."

"Why?"

"I kept the cotillon for Robert, though he hadn't exactly asked for it, and when the time came the girl of the house, who is eighteen, actually danced it with him!"

"Hope you didn't show you cared."

"No, I didn't; but I danced with a lot of stupid little boys, and I was so bored! Besides, I hate Robert. Wasn't it mean of him? He went to supper with this grown-up girl, who was awfully amused at his foreign accent, and he behaved as if I was just a child, a friend of his little sister Thérèse. Now, do you think, Savile, as a man of the world, that I ought ever to speak to him again?"

"When's he going away?" asked Savile.

"Next week; at the end of the holidays."

"If you cut him dead as he deserves," said Savile, "it's treating him as if he mattered. Of course, you really showed you were offended?"

"Well-I suppose I did. You see, his head was quite turned by these old grown-up girls making a fuss about him."

"What a rotter!" said Savile kindly. "Well, do you still like him?"

"No; I simply hate him, I tell you," said Dolly.

"Then don't bother about him any more."

Savile forbore to say, "I told you so!" He was however naturally gratified.

"What I should like," said Dolly candidly, "would be to be able to tell Thérèse-who would tell Robert-that I'm engaged to you!"

"Well, tell her so, if you like."

"Oh, what a brick you are! It's not very truthful though, is it?"

Savile said that didn't matter with foreigners.

"It is a pity," Dolly murmured, with a sigh, "that it can't be true!"

"Yes-isn't it?" said Savile.

"After all," said Dolly, "you're not exactly engaged to the other girl."

"How do you know?"

"Oh, I'm sure you're not."

"As a matter of fact I'm not."

"But you think she might marry you when you're grown up?"

Savile smiled. "Before there'll be a chance of marrying her, I shall be dead of old age."

"When shall you see her again?"

"Next Wednesday, the day before I go away."

Felicity had promised to take him to a concert where he might not only see her but possibly even be introduced to her in the artists' room, through the good nature of De Valdez, who had been told of Savile's romantic devotion.

But Savile was now feeling rather tenderly towards Dolly, who had evidently learnt by experience to put her trust in Englishmen. In fact, at this moment he was thoroughly enjoying himself again.

"I don't think after all I shall say I'm engaged to you," said Dolly sadly. "There's something depressing about it when it isn't true."

"Oh well, let's make it true."

"Really; but what about The Other Girl?"

"You don't quite understand. That's a different thing. There she is-but-that's all. It's nothing to

do with being engaged to you."

She looked bewildered.

"But is she very fond of you?"

"Not at all," said Savile.

"Oh, she must be," said Dolly admiringly.

Savile blushed and said, "My dear girl, she doesn't know me from Adam! So there!"

"Then why on earth did you break it off before?" said Dolly, clapping her hands and beaming.

"Well, you see, I think a good deal of her," said Savile, "and then, what with one thing and another-you didn't seem to want me much."

"But I do now!" said Dolly frankly.

"Oh, all right. Well, look here, old girl, we'll be engaged, just as we were before; but-I must have my freedom."

"Indeed you shan't," said Dolly, with flashing eyes. "I never heard such nonsense! What do you mean by your freedom? Then can't I have mine too?"

"Rather not! What a baby you are, Dolly. Don't you know, there's one law for a man and another for a woman?"

She gasped with rage.

"I never heard such nonsense in my life. I shall certainly not allow anything of the kind. Either we're engaged or we're not."

"Very well, my dear, keep calm about it. It doesn't matter. Here I offer," said Savile, "to please you, to be engaged again, and you don't like my terms. Then it's off."

"I think you're more cruel than Robert," said Dolly.

"But not such an ass," said Savile.

"And not so treacherous," admitted Dolly, who seemed as if she did not want him to go.

"Just tell me what you mean by your freedom," she said pleadingly.

"As I'm placed," said Savile mysteriously, "all I want is to see The Other Girl once, on Wednesday. I shall probably only have a few words with her. Then I believe they are going away, and I'm going back to school."

"They are going away," said Dolly, mystified. "Then is there more than one?"

"More than one? Good God, no! One's enough!" said Savile, with a sigh.

"After all," said Dolly very prettily, "I do trust you, Savile."

Savile was intensely pleased, but he only answered gruffly, "That's as well to know!"

"Then I'll try not to be jealous of her. I won't think about her at all."

"No, I shouldn't," said Savile.

"Then we are engaged," said Dolly again, "definitely?"

"Of course we are. And look here, you've got to do what I tell you."

"What am I to do?"

"You're to be jolly, just as you used to be; you're to come and meet me here every day, and-I'm not quite sure we really saw Madame Tussaud's properly that day."

"Well, you were so cross, Savile."

"I shan't be cross now. I'll take you there, and we'll have tea. Could you go to-day?"

"I think, just to-day," said Dolly, "I might be allowed. A particular friend of mamma's is coming to-day whom she hasn't seen for ages. She told me not to come into the drawing-room."

"All right. Run in now and fix it up."

"Mamma," said Dolly, "will expect me to go to the De Saules; but as my holiday task is about Charles II, and we shall see him at the waxworks--"

"I leave all that to you," said Savile.

"Very well, then. Come and fetch me at three. I'm sure I can arrange it. Won't Robert be surprised!"

"One more thing," said Savile rather sternly. "Remember that I don't care two straws whether he's surprised or not, and I don't want his name mentioned again."

"Then it's not to annoy him?"

"No. It's to please me. Us."

"Very well."

She gave him her hand.

"And you won't even-now that we're engaged properly-give up seeing-The Other Girl on Wednesday?" she pleaded.

Savile frowned darkly.

"You may be sure I shall do the right thing," he said rather grandly, "and you're not to refer to her again. I've told you I shall only see her once, and that's enough for you."

"I think you are very tyrannical," said Dolly, pouting.

"That won't do you any harm, my dear."

"And-you don't seem fond of me a bit!"

"Yes I am. What a fool you are! I'm awfully fond of you, Dolly."

"And are you very happy?"

"Yes, very fairly happy," said Savile. "And mind you have that powder all brushed out of your hair. I don't like it."

They walked to the gate.

"I really have missed you awfully, dear," said Savile gently.

"You have your faults, Savile, but you are reliable, I will say that."

"Rather," said Savile. "I'll bring you a ring this afternoon or to-morrow."

"What! How lovely! But I shan't be allowed to wear it."

"Then keep it till you can."

"It's very sweet of you. Good-bye, Savile."

"Good-bye, dear. I say, Dolly?"

"Yes?"

"Oh, nothing!"

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