K. glanced toward the street where Sidney's name and Max's lay open to the
sun and to the smiles of the Street. Christine might be right, but that
did not alter things for him.
Christine's thoughts went back inevitably to herself; to Palmer, who was
doing better just now; to K., who was going away--went back with an ache to
the night K. had taken her in his arms and then put her away. How wrong
things were! What a mess life was!
"When you go away," she said at last, "I want you to remember this. I'm
going to do my best, K. You have taught me all I know. All my life I'll
have to overlook things; I know that. But, in his way, Palmer cares for me.
He will always come back, and perhaps sometime--"
Her voice trailed off. Far ahead of her she saw the years stretching out,
marked, not by days and months, but by Palmer's wanderings away, his
"Do a little more than forgetting," K. said. "Try to care for him,
Christine. You did once. And that's your strongest weapon. It's always a
woman's strongest weapon. And it wins in the end."
"I shall try, K.," she answered obediently.
But he turned away from the look in her eyes.
Harriet was abroad. She had sent cards from Paris to her "trade." It was
an innovation. The two or three people on the Street who received her
engraved announcement that she was there, "buying new chic models for the
autumn and winter--afternoon frocks, evening gowns, reception dresses, and
wraps, from Poiret, Martial et Armand, and others," left the envelopes
casually on the parlor table, as if communications from Paris were quite to
So K. lunched alone, and ate little. After luncheon he fixed a broken
ironing-stand for Katie, and in return she pressed a pair of trousers for
him. He had it in mind to ask Sidney to go out with him in Max's car, and
his most presentable suit was very shabby.
"I'm thinking," said Katie, when she brought the pressed garments up over
her arm and passed them in through a discreet crack in the door, "that
these pants will stand more walking than sitting, Mr. K. They're getting
"I'll take a duster along in case of accident," he promised her; "and
to-morrow I'll order a suit, Katie."
"I'll believe it when I see it," said Katie from the stairs. "Some fool of
a woman from the alley will come in to-night and tell you she can't pay her
rent, and she'll take your suit away in her pocket-book--as like as not to
pay an installment on a piano. There's two new pianos in the alley since
you came here."