She gazed at Rutherford dully. Like Banquo’s ghost, she had no speculation in her eyes. Rutherford looked at her inquiringly, somewhat conscious of his shirt-sleeves.

“Did you knock?” he said, opening, as a man must do, with the inevitable foolish question.

The apparition spoke.

“Say,” she said, “got a cigarette?”

“I’m afraid I haven’t,” said Rutherford, apologetically. “I’ve been smoking a pipe. I’m very sorry.”

“What?” said the apparition.

“I’m afraid I haven’t.”

“Oh!” A pause. “Say, got a cigarette?”

The intellectual pressure of the conversation was beginning to be a little too much for Rutherford. Combined with the heat of the night it made his head swim.

His visitor advanced into the room. Arriving at the table, she began fiddling with its contents. The pen seemed to fascinate her. She picked it up and inspected it closely.

“Say, what d’you call this?” she said.

“That’s a pen,” said Rutherford, soothingly. “A fountainpen.”

“Oh!” A pause. “Say, got a cigarette?”

Rutherford clutched a chair with one hand, and his forehead with the other. He was in sore straits.

At this moment Rescue arrived, not before it was needed. A brisk sound of footsteps in the passage, and there appeared in the doorway a second girl.

“What do you think you’re doing, Gladys?” demanded the new-comer. “You mustn’t come butting into folks’ rooms this way. Who’s your friend?”

“My name is Maxwell,” began Rutherford eagerly.

“What say, Peggy?” said the seeker after cigarettes, dropping a sheet of manuscript to the floor.

Rutherford looked at the girl in the doorway with interest. So this was Peggy. She was little, and trim of figure. That was how he had always imagined her. Her dress was simpler than the other’s. The face beneath the picture-hat was small and well-shaped, the nose delicately tip-tilted, the chin determined, the mouth a little wide and suggesting good-humour. A pair of grey eyes looked steadily into his before transferring themselves to the statuesque being at the table.

“Don’t monkey with the man’s inkwell, Gladys. Come along up to bed.”

“What? Say, got a cigarette?”

“There’s plenty upstairs. Come along.”

The other went with perfect docility. At the door she paused, and inspected Rutherford with a grave stare.

“Good night, boy!” she said, with haughty condescension.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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