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   Chapter 13 No.13

The Trumpeter Swan By Temple Bailey Characters: 4206

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


Madge came down the next morning dressed for her journey. "Oscar and Flora are going to take me as far as Washington in their car. They want you to make a fourth, Georgie."

Dalton was eating alone. Breakfast was served at small tables on the west terrace. There was a flagged stone space with wide awnings overhead. Except that it overlooked a formal garden instead of streets, one might have been in a Parisian cafe. The idea was Oscar's. Dalton had laughed at him. "You'll be a boulevardier, Oscar, until you die."

Oscar had been sulky. "Well, how do you want me to do it?"

"Breakfast in bed-or in a breakfast room with things hot on the sideboard, luncheon, out here on the terrace when the weather permits, tea in the garden, dinner in great state in the big dining-room."

"I suppose you think you know all about it. But the thing that I am always asking myself is, were you born to it, Dalton?"

"I've been around a lot," Dalton evaded. "Of course if you don't want me to be perfectly frank with you, I won't."

"Be as frank as you please," Oscar had said, "but it's your air of knowing everything that gets me."

Dalton's breakfast was a hearty one-bacon and two eggs, and a pile of buttered toast. There had been a melon to begin with, and there was a pot of coffee. He was eating with an appetite when Madge came down.

"I had mine in bed," Madge said, as George rose and pulled out a chair for her. "Isn't this the beastliest fashion, having little tables?"

"That's what I told Oscar."

"Oscar and Flora will never have too much of restaurants. They belong to the class which finds all that it wants in a jazz band and scrambled eggs at Jack's at one o'clock in the morning. Georgie, in my next incarnation, I hope there won't be any dansants or night frolics. I'd like a May-pole in the sunshine and a lot of plump and rosy women and bluff and hearty men for my friends-with a fine old farmhouse and myself in the dairy making butter--"

George smiled at her. "I should have fancied you an Egyptian princess, with twin serpents above your forehead instead of that tu

rban."

"Heavens, no. I want no ardours and no Anthonys. Tell me about the new little girl, Georgie."

"How do you know there is a-new little girl?"

"I know your tricks and your manners, and the way you managed to meet her at the Horse Show. And you saw her last night."

"How do you know?"

"By the light in your eyes."

"Do I show it like that? Well, she's rather-not to be talked about, Madge--"

She was not in the least affronted. "So that's it? You always begin that way-putting them on a pedestal-- If you'd only keep one of us there it might do you good."

"Which one-you?" he leaned a little forward.

"No." Indignation stirred within her. How easy it was for him to play the game. And last night she had lain long awake, listening for the sound of his motor. She had seen the moon set, and spectral dawn steal into the garden. "No, I'm running away. I am tired of drifting always on the tides of other people's inclination. We have stayed down here where it is hot because Oscar and Flora like it, yet there's all the coolness of the North Shore waiting for us--"

She rose and walked to the edge of the terrace. The garden was splashed now with clear color, purple and rose and gold. The air was oppressive, with a gathering haze back of the hills.

"I'm tired of it. Some day I'm going to flap my wings and fly away where you won't be able to find me, Georgie. I'd rather be a wild gull to the wind-swept sky, than a tame pigeon-to eat from your hand--" She said it lightly; this was not a moment for plaintiveness.

There was a dancing light in his eyes. "You're a golden pheasant-and you'll never fly so far that I shan't find you."

Oscar arriving at this moment saved a retort. "Flora's not well. We can't motor up, Madge."

"I am sorry but I can take a train."

"There's one at three. I don't see why you are going," irritably; "Flora won't stay here long after you leave."

"I am not as necessary as you think, Oscar. There are plenty of others, and I must go--"

"Oh, very well. Andrews will drive you down."

"I'll drive her myself," said Dalton.

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