A man I met to-day told me you were engaged. Is that a fact?
Sure, murmured Archibald, blushfully.
The wire hummed with McCays congratulations.
Thanks, said Archibald. Thanks, old man. What? Oh, yes. Milsoms her name. By the way, her family have taken a cottage at Cape Pleasant for the summer. Some distance from the links. Yes, very convenient, isnt it? Good-bye.
He hung up the receiver and resumed his task of gathering up the fragments.
Now McCay happened to be of a romantic and sentimental nature. He was by profession a chartered accountant, and inclined to be stout; and all rather stout chartered accountants are sentimental. McCay was the sort of man who keeps old ball programmes and bundles of letters tied round with lilac ribbon. At country houses, where they lingered in the porch after dinner to watch the moonlight flooding the quiet garden, it was McCay and his colleague who lingered longest. McCay knew Ella Wheeler Wilcox by heart, and could take Browning without anæsthetics. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that Archibalds remark about his fiancée coming to live at Cape Pleasant should give him food for thought. It appealed to him.
He reflected on it a good deal during the day, and, running across Sigsbee, a fellow Cape Pleasanter, after dinner that night at the Sybarites Club, he spoke of the matter to him. It so happened that both had dined excellently, and were looking on the world with a sort of cosy benevolence. They were in the mood when men pat small boys on the head and ask them if they mean to be President when they grow up.
I called up Archie Mealing to-day, said McCay. Did you know he was engaged?
I did hear something about it. Girl of the name of Wilson, or
Milsom. Shes going to spend the summer at Cape Pleasant, Archie tells me.
Then shell have a chance of seeing him play in the championship competition.
McCay sucked his cigar in silence for a while, watching with dreamy eyes the blue smoke as it curled ceiling-ward. When he spoke his voice was singularly soft.
Do you know, Sigsbee, he said, sipping his Maraschino with a gentle melancholydo you know, there is something wonderfully pathetic to me in this business. I see the whole thing so clearly. There was a kind of quiver in the poor old chaps voice when he said: She is coming to Cape Pleasant, which told me more than any words could have done. It is a tragedy in its way, Sigsbee. We may smile at it, think it trivial; but it is none the less a tragedy. That warm-hearted, enthusiastic girl, all eagerness to see the man she loves do wellArchie, poor old Archie, all on fire to prove to her that her trust in him is not misplaced, and the endDisillusionmentDisappointmentUnhappiness.
He ought to keep his eye on the ball, said the more practical Sigsbee.
Quite possibly, continued McCay, he has told her that he will win this championship.
If Archies mutt enough to have told her that, said Sigsbee decidedly, he deserves all he gets. Waiter, two Scotch highballs.
McCay was in no mood to subscribe to this stony-hearted view.
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