'Ssshhh—' said Nan.

Johnny swallowed shock. Yet he himself was twenty-eight. He could hear the operators' voices singsonging across the continent, across the ocean.

He heard Emily, herself, say, 'Yes?'

'Aunt Emily! It's Nan!'

'Nan! Dear, is anything wrong?'

Johnny found he could visualize Aunt Emily Padgett's'^ small face, wt^h the sharp little nose, frosted with old- fashioned white powder,' and her pale brown hair going up all around.

'Not a thing,' cried Nan in the loud clear voice that had to go all the way to France.. 'Everything's wpnderful! I have news!' Dorothy had risen and stood close by. Nan wasn't seeing Dorothy, or Johrmy, either. 'I'm in love,' she shouted across the world. 'I'm engaged. I'm going to be married!'

'Oh, NanI'

'Listen, Aunt Emily, we want to get married right away and fly to Emope and meet you. We could meet you in Rome. Next week? Wouldn't that be fun?'

'Nan . . . it's Johnny, isn't it?'


'Johnny Sims?'

Nan took in her breath. She didn't look down at Johnny, pinned there. 'No, no, it isn't. It's somebody—you never met him but he's wonderful and I know you'll think so too . . . and I'm so happy. Aunt Er surprise you—'

'Who?' The syllable crossed the sound.

'His name is Richardson Bartee. son. It's a family name.'

Nobody spoke in Paris, France.

'Aunt Emily, can you hear me? I Bartee. He's from Hestia . . . Anc Emily? . . .'

Now there was a sound on the wi ''Yes, dear.' Or it might have been 'H

'Emily, dear, we want to get m fly to Rome. You ipM be there?'

'Don't ...' A groan.




'Don't . . '

'Emily, darling, we just can't wait Nan began to coax. 'We thought . . .'

''You must not marry this man!' Hij

'Aunt Emily, what did you say?'

'I'm coming home. I'll fly. Quick as

'Please, I don't understand. Emily trip. What's the matter?'

'Wait. Promise me you'll wait?'

'Of course, I—'

'What am I going to do?' said 1 far away.

Dorothy snatched the phone out c

lightly. 'She'll be home in a couple of days-want to call her back?'

'She hung up,' Nan said angrily and shook Dorothy's arm. 'It sounded as if she knows who as if she knows something bad about him. Die challenged them. Dorothy was biting her Bp.

'Yes, it kinda did,' said Johnny honestly.

'Well, she couldn't,' said Nan, 'because tli be anything . . .' She walked across the room ai by the window. Now the sparkle and the flyi gone. Nan was her old self, dignified, lonely forlorn.

The big room was still. Dorothy stood witl clasped. Johnny sat in his comer. Nan looked ( city.

'She's made some kind of mistake,' Nan sai ment. 'Probably she couldn't hear me very well.'

'That's possible,' Dorothy said quietly.

'I'm sorry she didn't understand,' Nan wer and I are in love and going to be married, going to change that.' Her dark head came up.

'No use to worry,' Dorothy said, 'until you to worry about.'

'Oh, I woni worry,' Nan said remotely. 'T to call Dick. I'm not going to upset him. Bee is going to be upset.' The dream was soberec back in her eyes. 'Will you stay for dinner, • asked politely. 'I don't feel like going out, some cold beef.' She was aloof. It was as if had turned to a cold close fog and swallow< reach.

out in Marin County last year, s headquarters now.

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