The flickering firelight fell upon the girl's pretty, thoughtful face; her violet eyes looked like deep lakes in it. She stood with one small foot tapping the polished brass rail of the fender. Claire Helmsley was accounted fortunate by her friends, for she was pretty and rich, and as popular as she was good looking.
The young man by her side, who stood looking moodily into the heart of the ship-log fire, was also popular and good looking, but Jack Masefield was anything but rich. He had all the brain and all the daring ambition that makes for success, but he was poor and struggling yet, and the briefs that he dreamed of at the bar had not come.
But he was not thinking of the bar now as he stood by Claire Helmsley's side. They were both in evening dress, and obviously waiting for dinner. Jack's arm was around Claire's slender waist, and her head rested on his shoulder, so that by looking up she could just see the shadow on his clean-cut face. Though the pressure of his arm was strong and tender, he seemed as if he had forgotten all about the presence of the girl.
"Why so silent?" the girl said. "What are you thinking about, Jack?"
"Well, I was thinking about you, dearest," Jack replied. "About you and myself. Also of your guardian, Anstruther. I was wondering why he asks me so often and leaves us so much together when he has not the slightest intention of letting me marry you."
The girl colored slightly. The expression in her violet eyes was one of pain.
"You have never asked my guardian," she said. "We have been engaged now for over six months, Jack, and at your request I have kept the thing a dead secret. Why should we keep the matter a secret? You are certain to get on in your profession, and you would do no worse if the world knew that you had a rich wife. My guardian is kindness itself. He has never thwarted me in a single wish. He would not be likely to try and cross my life's happiness."
Jack Masefield made no reply for a moment it was, perhaps, a singular prejudice on his part, but he did not like the brilliant and volatile Dr. Spencer Anstruther. who was Claire's guardian. He would have found it impossible to account for this feeling, but there it was.
"My guardian has plenty of money of his own." Claire said, as if reading his thoughts.
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