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Authors: Marjorie Moore

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BOOK: Gone Away
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CHAPTER THIRTEEN


I really believe that Patricia Dare is in love with Seymour Warinder!” Kitty leaned her two elbows on the table and confronted Ian
Alastar
with her somewhat startling announcement. “
I
certainly believe that she cares more about him than that Hanny girl whom he proposes to marry.”

Ian pushed back his coffee cup and stared across the breakfast table at his companion. “Kitty, my dear, what a devastating statement to make.” He smiled good-humoredly. “If it was anyone but you who had said it I should have, put him down as a good-for-nothing
mischief-maker
.” His eyes softened. “You couldn’t make mischief about anyone.”

“Don’t you believe it!” Kitty’s face dimpled. “It’s a long time since we met, Dr. Alastar, and for all you know I may be a changed woman.”

“Not you!” Ian glanced indulgently at the girl who, despite her youth, looked the picture of efficiency as she presided at the head of her brother’s table. From the little Ian had seen of the Wane
ménage
,
it was pretty obvious that Kitty was the ruling factor. The rather plump, tomboyish girl hadn’t changed much since he had visited the Wanes’ home in England when he was a mere medical student. Even then she had kept a watchful eye on her brother and been his guide and mentor. Bob Wane, always delicate and in indifferent health, adored his sister, and it had been no surprise to
I
an when he had heard that she was to accompany him to the East and look after him in his new life. Ian repressed a sigh. How different things might have been, if only he hadn’t been so blind, hadn’t rushed into a marriage which, had he paused to consider, could never have ended in any other way than it had. Still, thank goodness it wasn’t too late. When he was entirely free of his shackles, when his divorce decree was made absolute
...
he stared meditatively at Kitty, and a feeling of happiness pervaded his heart, such contentment as he had not known for years.

“You do look serious. What are you thinking about?” Kitty’s
l
ips widened into a smile. “Are you beginning to wonder whether, after all, I’m not right?”

“As a matter of fact, I wasn’t. I’m not the least bit concerned with Warinder’s love-affairs. I was thinking of something far more personal.” The look accompanying his words left Kitty little doubt as to the subject of his thoughts. It was such a short time since his arrival, and yet in innumerable ways he had shown Kitty that, after all her years of waiting, there was still a chance that she would obtain her heart’s desire. Ian had altered; he had grown into a man, so much more introspective than the boy she had known. Like Patricia, she also found him difficult to draw out, but—she cheered to the thought—he was changing; already she was sure that he would regain the cheery optimism he had once possessed. She loved him deeply, and this time, with the confidence of added years, she was sure of winning him.

“Do you think it was awful of me to suggest that Patricia might be in love with an engaged man?” she questioned, reverting to the subject on which she was subconsciously longing for an opinion.


It’s not awful, as you put it, but you’ve only seen Patricia once or twice, and I really don’t see how you could form an opinion,” Ian protested.

“I called at Warinder’s bungalow one morning last week, and have seen both Pat and Maimie a few times since.” She shook her head obstinately. “I still say that’s the impression I got.” She leaned more confidingly towards Ian. “You told me yourself that Maimie had a hectic flirtation with Claud Burny on the way out. It’s still going on. He called for her while I was there and they went out together. Yesterday I saw them both at the swimming club. How long do you think Seymour Warinder will stand for that? You don

t know the Singapore crowd as we do. Everyone knows everyone else here, and each other’s business as well! Claud Burny only spends a month or two a year in Singapore, but he has the reputation of being the most outrageous philanderer, and Seymour Warinder certainly must know it.”

“So much the better! He won’t attach any importance to the friendship if he realizes that Burny isn’t serious.”

Kitty shook her head impatiently. “You don’t understand. Flirting may be harmless with some people, but Claud’s reputation with girls is beyond a joke. He makes a hobby of having affairs, and no decent girl ought to have anything to do with him.”

“Maimie will soon find that out, if she hasn’t already. I expect she’ll shake him off as soon as she settles down. Anyway, she gets married in a week or two, doesn’t she?” Ian inquired.

“She told me originally that they had decided to wait a month.” A frown creased Kitty’s smooth brow. “I know you think this is just a passing thing. I can’t explain how I feel about it, only I know I’m not as sanguine as you. Claud’s awfully attractive. Supposing Maimie has really fallen for him and isn’t just passing the time?”

“If neither of them is fooling, it isn’t too late for Maimie to jilt Warinder and marry Burny,” Ian responded philosophically. He pushed back his chair from the table and rose, as if dismissing the conversation.

“Sit down again. I haven’t nearly finished,” Kitty ordered laughingly. “This thing’s on my mind and I must discuss it with someone.

Ian did as he was requested and turned again to Kitty. The smile had left his face, and a serious expression clouded his eyes. “You aren’t worrying about it, are you? It’s no affair of ours,” he insisted.

“I realize that, but I’m awfully fond of Patricia. I’ve taken a tremendous liking to her.” She looked directly at her companion. “I know you like her too; you said you’d seen a lot of her on board, and. how much she had interested you. She’s still a sort of guardian to Maimie, and she’s worried to death
about it already; that’s quite obvious.”

“But discussing it won’t help; we can’t do anything,” Ian protested. “Pat came out to chaperon Maimie; she can’t be responsible for any change of heart that may take place. If Maimie chooses to mess up her intended marriage, it isn’t Pat’s fault.”


I
an
...
” Kitty paused, as if considering her words. “I want to tell you something. She leaned confidingly toward him. “I said that Pat was in love with Seymour Warinder. It wasn’t just guesswork. I suppose girls sense these things easily. She di
d
n’t actually tell me anything, didn’t confess a thing, but she did admit that she’s met him before, and coming across him here was a complete surprise; she had no idea that Maimie’s future husband and the man she had once known were one and the same.”

“She couldn’t have known him very well, then
...
couldn’t even have remembered his name. Are you sure you aren’t jumping to conclusions?” Ian questioned doubtfully.

“I know I’m not, and if she cares for Seymour, it’s going to make it much harder for her to see him either jilted or, if Maimie does marry him, completely fooled,” Kitty asserted with conviction.

“You’re taking the whole thing far too seriously.” Ian smiled kindly. “Don’t go worrying about it, my dear. Pat’s a sensible, practical girl; she can look after herself all right, and Maimie, although she may be a bit headstrong, is really sweet-natured at heart.

Kitty scarcely heard her companion’s last words, as she had jumped quickly to her feet. “Wasn’t that the sound of a car? It can’t be Bob. He won’t be back until lunch
...
Who on earth can it be?” She crossed to the window. “Yes, it’s a car all right, and it’s stopping here,” She peered forward. “
I
can’t make out who it is
at all.”

Ian joined Kitty at the window, and, slipping his arm round her shoulders, looked over her head at the advancing car. It turned into the drive and drew to a standstill.

“That’s Seymour Warinder’s
sais
...
I’m sure it is.”

“What’s a
sais?"
Ian questioned while his eyes still tried to identify the occupant of the car.

“Malay for chauffeur
...
You’ll have to learn some Malay. I’ll teach you, if you like.” Kitty placed her hands on the sill and leaned far out of the window. “It’s Pat! I wonder why she’s here so early?” She pulled herself from Ian’s hold and ran toward the door.

Ian watched her flying figure as she ran down the drive to greet the new arrival. What a darling Kitty was! A frown momentarily puckered his brow. It was silly of her to worry about the Warinder affair; she was probably making a mountain out of a molehill.

In another moment Kitty, her arm linked in Patricia’s, appeared in the doorway. “I’m sorry. Ian and I have been talking
...
we’ve been so engrossed in our own affairs that we haven’t even had the breakfast cleared.” She excused herself to her friend.

“I’m sorry ... I shouldn’t have come so early.” A faint flush rose to Patricia’s fair skin. “It is rather an early hour for calling.” She advanced, with hand outstretched, to Ian. “Good morning. I’m afraid I’ve interrupted you both.”

“Not a bit,” Kitty broke in before Ian had time to reply. “Ian is supposed to be meeting Bob at the hospital this morning. It’s time he left. I hadn’t realized how late it was.” She turned to Ian. “I’ve ordered the car; it’ll be ready now; in fact I expect it’s been ready for ages.” She smiled affectionately as she bade Ian goodbye. “See you at lunchtime. Tell Bob to be punctual for once; it’s a curry tiffin!”

She watched Ian depart before returning to her friend.

We’ll go into Bob’s study; it’s cool there in the mornings.”

Patricia followed Kitty through the folding doors to an adjoining room furnished as a study. Kitty set the electric fan in motion and drew forward two easy chairs. “I’m awfully glad you came. I’ve nothing to do this morning and was just longing for company.” Patricia pulled off her hat. “I hope you really didn

t mind my dropping in like this, but I felt I must get
out ...
somewhere—anywhere.” There was a note of distress in Patricia’s voice which did not escape Kitty’s attention.

“Pat, dear
...
what’s the matter?” Kitty’s voice was full of sympathy.

Patricia smiled at her companion’s serious tone
.
“Please, don’t waste your sympathy on me; there is really nothing the matter, only
...
” She paused for a second before continuing. “As Maimie was out I thought Seymour might return and somehow
...
well, I thought it might look better if he found us both out
...
not just Maimie out without me.”

Kitty leaned back in her chair. “I see. She’s out with Claud. You intend to time your visit here so as to return with Maimie, then Seymour will think you’ve been out together?”

Patricia looked at Kitty in amazement. “How did you guess?” she asked in considerable surprise. “Maimie is picking me up here and we’re returning together.

“It’s pretty obvious. You’ll have the devil of a time until Maimie marries if you’re going to exert all your ingenuity in covering up her deficiencies,” Kitty observed dryly.

“It isn’t that,” Patricia protested. “Maimie is so eager to enjoy life to the full it makes her inconsiderate. She’s always had such a dreary time that she can’t resist snatching at all the pleasure offered now it’s hers for the taking. Seymour wouldn’t mind, I’m sure he wouldn’t,” she insisted with almost too much emphasis, as if she were trying to convince herself as well as Kitty of the truth of her remarks. “But he might take a dislike to Claud, and then it would be awful. He hasn’t said anything; you understand that, don’t you? In fact, he knows that Maimie sees Claud frequently. He dined with us last night. Seymour invited him himself, and he often makes a fourth when we dine out, so you see Seymour must like him.”

“I’m sure he does, and he’ll go on liking him so long as you and Maimie can keep him blind as to the true state of affairs,” Kitty observed with a smile. “There is no reason why he should do otherwise than like him.”

“But I can’t let Maimie down. I must stand by her.” Patricia’s words were anguished. “You think it’s wrong of me, but I know you’d do the same if you were in my place!”

“I wonder.” Kitty lapsed into silence, and when next she spoke it was slowly, as if she were weighing every word. “Seymour Warinder is marrying Maimie in a very short time now. Do you think it quite fair to let him in for marriage unless he has seen his future wife in a true perspective? He hasn’t known her long. Not long enough when you are considering a lifetime in one another’s company. That’s the sort of thing that happens out East quite a lot. Men get engaged while they’re on leave, their brides come out to join them, knowing nothing about the life or the conditions in these hot countries. Sometimes the marriage is a success, sometimes it doesn’t work at all.”

“I know all that, but this isn’t the same. Maimie really wants to marry Seymour. I feel sure this is only an episode; it would never have happened if she’d had a less dreary life with her aunt. She’s feeling her feet for the first time, and she’s out for a good time in the interval at her disposal before she settles down to married life.”

“You know Maimie better than I do; perhaps you’re right, perhaps this is just a natural desire for fun after the restricted existence she has had.” Kitty looked at Patricia interrogatively. “I shouldn’t have thought that, fond of Seymour as I’m sure you are, you could bear to sit by and help Maimie to throw dust in his eyes.”

“I don’t see what else I can do,” Patricia admitted despondently. “I’m fond of Maimie, and although I think she is behaving awfully foolishly, she’s got such a way with her it’s impossible to resist.”

“Yes, she certainly is a cajoling sort of person.” Kitty paused, and searching her companion’s face, continued, “Don’t think I’m prying, but I can’t refrain from persisting in my endeavor to find out t
h
e truth about you
...
and Seymour Warinder.” Despite Patricia’s frozen look, Kitty was not to be deterred. “I know we don’t know each other very well, but,” she smiled, “I believe that very first day you arrived at luncheon, you realized that Ian and I cared for one another. Well, I’ve been just as astute regarding your affairs. Can’t you trust me? Won’t you tell me about it?”

Patricia could not resist Kitty’s obvious desire for her confidence. She had had so few girl friends that she had grown used to keeping her own counsel and found it difficult to discuss her innermost feelings. Maimie had been as great a friend as any she had ever had, but Maimie had made no effort to break through Patricia’s natural reserve. Kitty was different; she was so sound, so practical, and, before she had realized what she was doing, Patricia found herself pouring the whole story into her companion’s sympathetic ears.

“I told you the truth the other morning, I only met Seymour once.” She smiled a trifle sadly. “I know you’ll laugh at me
...
why, I didn’t even know his name! I was very impressionable. Somehow I have never been able to rid myself of his memory. Possibly it was because I’d met so few men and had never really been friendly with any. I had thought about him a lot and exaggerated the episode of our meeting until it assumed absurd proportions, and I grew to dream about that incident as the one romantic adventure of my life. Imagine my surprise when I realized that my hero and Maimie’s
fiancé
were one and the same!” She paused, but as Kitty remained silently attentive, she continued, “Of course we recognized one another, but Seymour, very wisely, suggested that it might be foolish to tell Maimie that we had met before. Greeting me as an old acquaintance would have taken away from his welcome
to her. So he didn’t even admit to me that he’d recognized me until later, when we were alone.” Patricia sighed. “I don t think he’d ever given our adventure much thought; he couldn’t be expected to know what a ridiculous song and dance I’d made of it in my own mind.”

“And meeting him again didn’t shatter your previous memories?” The question was more in the form of a statement, although Kitty was eager for Patricia’s answer.

Patricia shook her head. “No, it’s difficult to shake an image from your mind, particularly when it hasn’t changed. I still admire Seymour more than any man I’ve ever known.”

What a shame!” Kitty got up from her chair and, crossing the room, stared unseeingly out of the window. “And you would hav
e
fitted into things here so well; Maimie never will. I’ve lived he
re
long enough to judge; she won’t stick it once the first excitemen
t
has worn off.” She turned abruptly from the window and addressee her friend. “You ought to let Maimie go her own way. I hinted at i
t
the other day. If you let Seymour see
h
ow worthless Maimie is he’
l
l probably turn to you, then you’ll get what you want and be doin
g
h
im a good turn at the same time. You can’t persuade me tha
t
Maimie is your idea of a suitable wife for a man of Seymour’
s
type.”

“Seymour loves her, and I believe that, underneath all he casualness, Maimie loves him. I have put him entirely out of m
y
mind. Naturally I still care about his welfare—that’s why I want t
o
save him any pain that Maimie might thoughtlessly cause him—but any other course is out of the question,” Patricia asserte
d
firmly.

In two strides Kitty was across the room. Seating herself on th
e
arm of Patricia’s chair, she placed her hand affectionately on he
r
shoulder. “Of course you’re right. I understand, really I do; only like you so much, and the little I know of Seymour I like to
o.
Maimie isn’t my type; I haven’t your patience with those frivolous brainless beauties. I couldn’t help saying what I did. I’m incurabl
e
romantic, and perhaps it’s because up to now I’ve had a rotten dea
l
myself, but I do like to see everyone happy.” She stooped an
d
kissed her companion. “Don’t worry, dear; whatever you do I’m o
n
your side, an
d
you can always count on me to help.” Sh
e
straightened herself up and continued, “By the way, Bob is keepin
g
his eyes open for a job, but if you aren’t fixed up by the tim
e
Maimie marries he insists that you come and stay with us.”

“But I couldn’t. That’s too generous of your brother. Why, h
e
hardly knows me,” Patricia protested.

“Nonsense. He can easily repair that omission. I like you, and s
o
does Ian; besides, it will give you a chance of picking up an idea of the secretarial work I do, and I shouldn’t be surprised if, before very long, you will be asked to take it on.”

You mean that? Oh, I’m glad!”

“So, you see, you must come,” Kitty urged her friend. “I am absolutely depending on you.”

“Even if you do marry
...
you’ll come back here, won’t you?” Patricia questioned.

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