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"'Olivia De Ormond,'" read Blue-Tie from the card. He looked inquiringly at his cousin.
"Why not have her in," said Black-Tie, "and bring matters to a conclusion?"
"Uncle Jake," said one of the young men, "would you mind taking that chair over there in the corner for a while? A lady is coming in--on some business. We'll take up your case afterward."
The lady whom Percival ushered in was young and petulantly, decidedly, freshly, consciously, and intentionally pretty. She was dressed with such expensive plainness that she made you consider lace and ruffles as mere tatters and rags. But one great ostrich plume that she wore would have marked her anywhere in the army of beauty as the wearer of the merry helmet of Navarre.
Miss De Ormond accepted the swivel chair at Blue-Tie's desk. Then the gentlemen drew leather-upholstered seats conveniently near, and spoke of the weather.
"Yes," said she, "I noticed it was warmer. But I mustn't take up too much of your time during business hours. That is," she continued, "unless we talk business."
She addressed her words to Blue-Tie, with a charming smile.
"Very well," said he. "You don't mind my cousin being present, do you? We are generally rather confidential with each other-especially in business matters."
"Oh no," caroled Miss De Ormond. "I'd rather he did hear. He knows all about it, anyhow. In fact, he's quite a material witness because he was present when you--when it happened. I thought you might want to talk things over before--well, before any action is taken, as I believe the lawyers say."
"Have you anything in the way of a proposition to make?" asked Black-Tie. Miss De Ormond looked reflectively at the neat toe of one of her dull kid-pumps.
"I had a proposal made to me," she said. "If the proposal sticks it cuts out the proposition. Let's have that settled first."
"Well, as far as--" began Blue-Tie.
"Excuse me, cousin," interrupted Black-Tie, "if you don't mind my cutting in." And then he turned, with a good-natured air, toward the lady.
"Now, let's recapitulate a bit," he said cheerfully. "All three of us, besides other mutual acquaintances, have been out on a good many larks together."
"I'm afraid I'll have to call the birds by another name," said Miss De Ormond.
"All right," responded Black-Tie, with unimpaired cheerfulness; "suppose we say 'squabs' when we talk about the 'proposal' and 'larks' when we discuss the 'proposition.' You have a quick mind, Miss De Ormond. Two months ago some half-dozen of us went in a motor-car for day's run into the country. We stopped at a road-house for dinner. My cousin proposed marriage to you then and there. He was influenced to do so, of course, by the beauty and charm which no one can deny that you possess."
"I wish I had you for a press agent, Mr. Carteret," said the beauty, with a dazzling smile.
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