And here they were--here _she_ was, idling uselessly at the Ritz as she had done yesterday, last week, last month--forever, it seemed to her.
The vague protest that for some time had been growing within her against the senselessness and futility of her manner of existence crystallized itself now into a determination no longer to submit to it. Courageously she was resolving that she would take the first opportunity to escape from this boresome routine of pleasure-seeking. She was wondering if the request that had been so unexpectedly made of her would prove to be her way out from her prison of desuetude.
The talk of the two women with her drifted aimlessly on. Seldom was she included in it, save when her mother, nodding to some one she knew, would turn to say: "Daughter, there is Mrs. Jones-Lloyd."
What did she care about Mrs. Jones-Lloyd? What did she care about any of the people about them, aimless, pleasure-hunting drifters like themselves. Left to her own devices for mental activity her thoughts kept recurring to the surprising adventure she had had a few minutes before. Thoughtfully she pondered over the mysterious message that had been given to her. The man had said that it was a wonderful opportunity for her to do her country a great service. She wondered why he had been so secretive about it. She decided that she would investigate further and made up her mind to carry out his instructions. What harm could befall her in visiting an office building in the business district? At least it would be something to do, something new, something different, something surely exciting and, perhaps, something useful.
It would be better, she decided, for the present at least, to keep her intentions entirely to herself. Any hint of her plans to her mother would surely result in permission being refused. The man certainly had seemed sincere, honest, and perfectly respectable, even if he was not of the sort one would ask to dinner. She made up her mind to go down-town to the address given the very first thing to-morrow morning. If anything should happen to her, she felt that she could always reach her father.
His office was in the next block.
The problem of making the mysterious journey without her mother's knowledge bothered her not at all. As in the case of most apartment-house families, she and her mother really saw very little of each other, especially since she had become a "young lady." Mrs. Strong went constantly to lectures, to luncheons, to bridge parties, to matinees with her own particular friends. Jane's engagements were with another set entirely, school friends most of them, whose parents and hers hardly knew each other. Both she and her mother habitually breakfasted in bed, generally at different hours, and seldom lunched together. At dinner, when Mr. Strong was present, there were no intimacies between mother and daughter. The only times they really saw each other for protracted periods were when they happened to go shopping, or go to the dressmaker's together, and then the subject always uppermost in the minds of both of them was the all-important and absorbing topic of clothes. Occasionally, Jane poured at one of her mother's more formal functions, but for the most part the time of each was taken up in a mad, senseless hunt for amusement.