‘Let us two meet him accidentally at the street corner tomorrow,’ said Eleanor; ‘we can walk a little way with him, and with luck we ought to be able to side-track him into the shop. You can say you want to get a hair-net or something. When we’re safely there I can say: “I wish you’d tell me what you want for your birthday.” Then you’ll have everything ready to hand—the rich cousin, the fur department, and the topic of birthday presents.’

‘It’s a great idea,’ said Suzanne; ‘you really are a brick. Come round tomorrow at twenty to three; don’t be late, we must carry out our ambush to the minute.’

At a few minutes to three the next afternoon the fur-trappers walked warily towards the selected corner. In the near distance rose the colossal pile of Messrs. Goliath and Mastodon’s famed establishment. The afternoon was brilliantly fine, exactly the sort of weather to tempt a gentleman of advancing years into the discreet exercise of a leisurely walk.

‘I say, dear, I wish you’d do something for me this evening,’ said Eleanor to her companion; ‘just drop in after dinner on some pretext or other, and stay on to make a fourth at bridge with Adela and the aunts. Otherwise I shall have to play, and Harry Scarisbrooke is going to come in unexpectedly about nine- fifteen, and I particularly wanted to be free to talk to him while the others are playing.’

‘Sorry, my dear, no can do,’ said Suzanne; ‘ordinary bridge at threepence a hundred, with such dreadfully slow players as your aunts, bores me to tears. I nearly go to sleep over it.’

‘But I most particularly want an opportunity to talk with Harry,’ urged Eleanor, an angry glint coming into her eyes.

‘Sorry, anything to oblige, but not that,’ said Suzanne cheerfully; the sacrifices of friendship were beautiful in her eyes as long as she was not asked to make them.

Eleanor said nothing further on the subject, but the corners of her mouth rearranged themselves.

‘There’s our man!’ exclaimed Suzanne suddenly; ‘hurry!’

Mr Bertram Kneyght greeted his cousin and her friend with genuine heartiness, and readily accepted their invitation to explore the crowded mart that stood temptingly at their elbow. The plateglass doors swung open and the trio plunged bravely into the jostling throng of buyers and loiterers.

‘Is it always as full as this?’ asked Bertram of Eleanor.

‘More or less, and autumn sales are on just now,’ she replied. Suzanne, in her anxiety to pilot her cousin to the desired haven of the fur department, was usually a few paces ahead of the others, coming back to them now and then if they lingered for a moment at some attractive counter, with the nervous solicitude of a parent rook encouraging its young ones on their first flying expedition.

‘It’s Suzanne’s birthday on Wednesday next,’ confided Eleanor to Bertram Kneyght at a moment when Suzanne had left them unusually far behind; ‘my birthday comes the day before, so we are both on the look-out for something to give each other.’

‘Ah,’ said Bertram. ‘Now, perhaps you can advise me on that very point. I want to give Suzanne something, and I haven’t the least idea what she wants.’

‘She’s rather a problem,’ said Eleanor. ‘She seems to have everything one can think of, lucky girl. A fan is always useful; she’ll be going to a lot of dances at Davos this winter. Yes, I should think a fan would please her more than anything. After our birthdays are over we inspect each other’s muster of presents, and I always feel dreadfully humble. She gets such nice things, and I never have anything worth showing. You see, none of my relations or any of the people who give me presents are at all well off, so I can’t expect them to do anything more than just remember the day with some little trifle. Two

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