The Powers and Maxine


could see people dancing. I told him he might sit by me on the sofa under Di's book shelves, because we could talk better there. Usually, I don't like being in front of a mirror, because--well, because I'm only the "pretty girl's sister." But to-night I didn't mind. My cheeks were red, and my eyes bright. Sitting down, you might almost take me for a tall girl, and the way my gown was made didn't show that one shoulder is a little higher than the other. Di designed the dress. I thought, if I wasn't pretty, I did look interesting, and original. I looked as if I could think of things; and as if I could feel. And I was feeling. I was wondering why he had been so good to me lately, unless he cared. Of course it might be for Di's sake; but I am not so queer-looking that no man could ever be fascinated by me. They say pity is akin to love. Perhaps he had begun by pitying me, because Di has everything and I nothing; and then, afterwards, he had found out that I was intelligent and sympathetic. He sat by me and didn't speak at first. Just then Di passed the far-away, open door of the ballroom, dancing with Lord Robert West, the Duke of Glasgow's brother. "Thank you so much for the book," I said. (He had sent me a book that morning--one he'd heard me say I wanted.) He didn't seem to hear, and then he turned suddenly, with one of his nice smiles. I always think he has the nicest smile in the world: and certainly he has the nicest voice. His eyes looked very kind, and a little sad. I willed him hard to love me. "It made me happy to get it," I went on. "It made me happy to send it," he said. "Does it please you to do things for me?" I asked. "Why, of course." "You do like poor little me a tiny bit, then?" I couldn't help adding--"Even though I'm different from other girls?" "Perhaps more for that reason," he said, with his voice as kind as his eyes. "Oh, what shall I do if you go away!" I burst out, partly because I really meant it, and partly because I hoped it might lead him on to say what I wanted so much to hear. "Suppose you get that consulship at Algiers." "I hope I may," he said quickly. "A consulship isn't a very great thing--but--it's a beginning. I want it badly." "I wish I had some influence with the Foreign Secretary," said I, not telling him that the man actually dislikes me, and looks at me as if I were a toad. "Of course, he's Lord Mountstuart's cousin, and brother-in-law as well, and that makes him seem quite in the family, doesn't it? But it isn't as if I were really related to Lady Mountstuart. I was never sorry before that Di and I are only step-sisters--no, not a bit sorry, though her mother had all the money, and brought it to my poor father; but now I wish I were Lady Mountstuart's niece, and that I had some of the coaxing, 'girly' ways Di can put on when she wants to get something out of people. I'd make the Foreign Secretary give you exactly what you wanted, even if it took you

A. M. (Alice Muriel) Williamson and C. N. (Charles Norris) Williamson

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