Chapter XI. "The Taming of the Shrew"
 

"School again, Rob! Don't you hate it?"

"No, of course I don't hate it. I'm much, much happier when I'm teaching Ethel Revell to forget her important young self and remember the part she is supposed to play, than I am when I am merely dusting my room or driving downtown on errands."

As she spoke Roberta pushed into place the last hairpin in the close and trim arrangement of her dark hair, briefly surveyed the result with a hand-glass, and rose from her dressing-table. Ruth, at a considerably earlier stage of her dressing, regarded her sister's head with interest.

"I can always tell the difference between a school day and another day, just by looking at your hair," she observed, sagely.

"How, Miss Big Eyes, if you please?"

"You never leave a curl sticking out, on school days. They sometimes work out before night, but that's not your fault. You look like one of Jane Austen's heroines, now."

Roberta laughed a laugh of derision. "Miss Austen's heroines undoubtedly had ringlets hanging in profusion on either side of their oval faces."

"Yes, but I mean every hair of theirs was in order, and so are yours."

"Thank you. Only so can I command respect when I lecture my girls on their frenzied coiffures. Oh, but I'm thankful I can live at home and don't have to spend the nights with them! Some of them are dears, but to be responsible for them day and night would harrow my soul. Hook me up, will you, Rufus, please?"

"You look just like a smooth feathered bluebird in this," commented Ruth, as she obediently fastened the severely simple school dress of dark blue, relieved only by its daintily fresh collar and cuffs of embroidered white lawn.

"I mean to. Miss Copeland wouldn't have a fluffy, frilly teacher in her school--and I don't blame her. It's difficult enough to train fluffy, frilly girls to like simplicity, even if one's self is a model of plainness and repose."

"And you're truly glad to go back, after this lovely vacation? Shouldn't you sort of like to keep on typing for Uncle Calvin, with Mr. Richard Kendrick sitting close by, looking at you over the top of his book?"

Roberta wheeled, answering with vehemence: "I should say not, you romantic infant! When I work I want to work with workers, not with drones! A person who can only dawdle over his task is of no use at all. How Uncle Calvin gets on with a mere imitation of a secretary, I can't possibly see. Why, Ted himself could cover more ground in a morning!"

"I don't think you do him justice," Ruth objected, with all the dignity of her sixteen years in evidence. "Of course he couldn't work as well with you in the room--he isn't used to it. And you are--you certainly are, awfully nice to look at, Rob."

"Nonsense! It's lucky you're going back to school yourself, child, to get these sentimental notions out of your head. Come, vacation's over! Let's not sigh for more dances; let's go at our work with a will. I've plenty before me. The school play comes week after next, and I haven't as good material this year as last. How I'm ever going to get Olivia Cartwright to put sufficient backbone into her Petruchio, I don't know. I only wish I could play him myself!"

"Rob! Couldn't you?"

"It's never done. My part is just to coach and coach, to go over the lines a thousand times and the stage business ten thousand, and then to stay behind the scenes and hiss at them: 'More spirit! More life! Throw yourself into it!' and then to watch them walk it through like puppets! Well, The Taming of the Shrew is pretty stiff work for amateurs, no doubt of that--there's that much to be said. Breakfast time, childie! You must hurry, and I must be off."

Half an hour later Ruth watched her sister walk away down the street with Louis, her step as lithe and vigorous as her brother's. Ruth herself was accustomed to drive with her father to the school which she attended--a rival school, as it happened, of the fashionable one at which Roberta taught. She was not so strong as her sister, and a two-mile walk to school was apt to overtire her. But Roberta chose to walk every day and all days, and the more stormy the weather the surer was she to scorn all offers of a place beside Ruth in the brougham.

Louis's comment on the return of his sister to her work at Miss Copeland's school was much like that of Ruth. "Sorry vacation's over, Rob? That's where I have the advantage of you. The office never closes for more than a day; therefore I'm always in training."

"That's an advantage, surely enough. But I'm ready to go back. As I was telling Ruth this morning, I'm anxious to know whether Olivia Cartwright has forgotten her lines, and whether she's going to be able to infuse a bit of life into her Petruchio. This trying to make a schoolgirl play a big man's part--"

"You could do it, yourself," observed Louis, even as Ruth had done.

"And shouldn't I love to! I'm just longing to stride about the stage in Petruchio's boots."

"I'll wager you are. I'd like to see you do it. But the part of Katherine would be the thing for you--fascinating shrew that you could be."

"This--from a brother! Yes, I'd like to play Katherine, too. But give me the boots, if you please. Do you happen to remember Olivia Cartwright?"

"Of course I do. And a mighty pretty and interesting girl she is. I should think she might make a Petruchio for you."

"I thought she would. But the boots seem to have a devastating effect. The minute she gets them on--even in imagination, for we haven't had a dress rehearsal yet--her voice grows softer and her manner more lady-like. It's the funniest thing I ever knew, to hear her say the lines--

"'What is this? mutton?...
'Tis burnt, and so is all the meat.
What dogs are these? Where is the rascal cook?

"How durst you, villains, bring it from the dresser,
And serve it thus to me that love it not?
  There, take it to you, trenchers, cups and all,
You heedless joltheads and unmannered slaves!'"

Passersby along the street beheld a young man consumed with mirth as Louis Gray heard these stirring words issuing from his sister's pretty mouth in a clever imitation of the schoolgirl Petruchio's "lady-like" tones.

"Now speak those lines as you would if you wore the boots," he urged, when he had recovered his gravity.

Roberta waited till they were at a discreet distance from other pedestrians, then delivered the lines as she had already spoken them for her pupil twenty times or more, with a spirit and temper which gave them their character as the assumed bluster they were meant to picture.

"Good!" cried Louis. "Great! But you see, Sis, you have learned the absolute control of your voice, and that's a thing few schoolgirls have mastered. Besides, not every girl has a throat like yours."

"I mean to be patient," said Roberta soberly. "And Olivia has really a good speaking voice. It's the curious effect of the imaginary boots that stirs my wonder. She actually speaks in a higher key with them on than off. But we shall improve that, in the fortnight before the play. They are really doing very well, and our Katherine--Ethel Revell--is going to forget herself completely in her part, if I can manage it. In spite of the hard work I thoroughly enjoy the rehearsing of the yearly play--it's a relief from the routine work of the class. And the girls appreciate the best there is, in the great writers and dramatists, as you wouldn't imagine they could do."

"On the whole, you would rather be a teacher than an office stenographer?" suggested Louis, with a touch of mischief in his tone. "You know, I've always been a bit disappointed that you didn't come into our office, after working so hard to make an expert of yourself."

"That training wasn't wasted," defended Roberta. "I'm able to make friends with my working girls lots better on account of the stenography and typewriting I know. And I may need that resource yet. I'm not at all sure that I mean to be a teacher all my days."

"I'm very sure you'll not," said her brother, with a laughing glance, which Roberta ignored. It was a matter of considerable amusement to her brothers the serious way in which she had set about being independent. They fully approved of her decision to spend her time in a way worth the while, but when it came to planning for a lifetime--there were plenty of reasons for skepticism as to her needing to look far ahead. Indeed, it was well known that Roberta might have abandoned all effort long ago, and have given any one of several extremely eligible young men the greatly desired opportunity of taking care of her in his own way.

The pair separated at a street corner, and, as it happened, Louis heard little more about the progress of the school rehearsals for The Taming of the Shrew until the day before its public performance--if a performance could be called public which was to be given in so private a place as the ballroom in the home of one of the wealthiest patrons of the school, the audience composed wholly of invited guests, and admission to the affair for others extremely difficult to procure on any ground whatever.

Appearing at the close of the final rehearsal to escort his sister home--for the hour, like that of all final rehearsals, was late--Louis found a flushed and highly wrought Roberta delivering last instructions even as she put on her wraps.

"Remember, Olivia," he heard her say to a tall girl wrapped in a long cloak which evidently concealed male trappings, "I'm not going to tone down my part one bit to fit yours. If I'm stormy you must be blustering; if I'm furious you must be fierce. You can do it, I know."

"I certainly hope so, Miss Gray," answered a none-too-confident voice. "But I'm simply frightened to death to play opposite you."

"Nonsense! I'll stick pins into you--metaphorically speaking," declared Roberta. "I'll keep you up to it. Now go straight to bed--no sitting up to talk it over with Ethel--poor child! Good-night, dear, and don't you dare be afraid of me!"

"Are you going to play the boots, after all?" Louis queried as he and Roberta started toward home, walking at a rapid pace, as usual after rehearsals.

"I wish I were, if I must play some part. No, it's Katherine. Ethel Revell has come down with tonsilitis, just at the last minute. It was to be expected, of course--somebody always does it. But I did hope it wouldn't be one of the principals. Of course there's nobody who could possibly get up the part overnight except the coach, so I'm in for it. And the worst of it is that unless I'm very careful I shall over-Katherine my Petruchio! If Olivia will only keep her voice resonant! She can stride and gesture pretty well now, but highly dramatic moments always cause her to raise her key--and then the boots only serve to make the effect grotesque."

"Never mind; unconscious humour is always interesting to the audience. And we shall all be there to see your Katherine. I had thought of cutting the performance for a rather important address, but nothing would induce me to miss my sister as the Shrew."

Roberta laughed. "Nobody will question my fitness for the part, I fear. Well, if I teach expression, in a girls' school, I must take the consequences, and be willing to express anything that comes along."

If Roberta had expected any sympathy from her family in the exigency of the hour, she was disappointed. Instead of condoling with her, the breakfast-table hearers of the news, next morning, were able only to congratulate themselves upon the augmented interest the school play would now have for Roberta's friends, confident that the presence of one clever actress of maturer powers would compensate for much amateurishness in the others. Ruth, young devotee of her sister, was delighted beyond measure with the prospect, and joyfully spent the day taking necessary stitches in the apparel Roberta was to wear, considerable alteration being necessary to adapt the garments intended for the slim and girlish Katherine of Ethel Revell's proportions to the more perfectly rounded lines of her teacher.

Late in the afternoon, something was needed to complete Roberta's preparations which could be procured only in a downtown shop, and Ruth volunteered to order the brougham--now on runners--and go down for it. She left the house alone, but she did not complete her journey alone, for halfway down the two-mile boulevard she passed a figure she knew, and turned to bestow a girlish bow and smile.

Richard Kendrick not only took off his hat but waved it with a gesture of entreaty, as he quickened his steps, and Ruth, much excited by the encounter, bade Thomas stop the horses.

"Would you take a passenger?" he asked as he came up; "unless, of course, you're going to stop for some one else?"

"Do get in," she urged shyly. "No, I'm all alone--going on an errand."

"I guessed it--not the errand, but the being alone. You looked so small, wrapped up in all these furs, I felt you needed company," explained Richard, smiling down into the animated young face, with its delicate colour showing fresh and fair in the frosty air. There was something very attractive to the young man in this girl, who seemed to him the embodiment of sweetness and purity. He never saw her without feeling that he would have liked just such a little sister. He would have done much to please her, quite as he had followed her suggestion about the church-going on Christmas Day.

"I'm rushing down to find a scarf of a certain colour for Rob," explained Ruth, too full of her commission to keep it to herself. "You see, she's playing Katherine to-night. The girl who was to have played it--Ethel Revell--is ill. Do you know any of Miss Copeland's girls? Olivia Cartwright plays Petruchio."

"Olivia Cartwright? Is she to be in some play? She's a distant cousin of mine."

"It's a school play--Miss Copeland's school, where Rob teaches, you know. The play is to be in the Stuart Hendersons' ballroom." And Ruth made known the situation to a listener who gave her his undivided attention.

"Well, well,--seems to me I should have had an invitation for that play," mused Richard, searching his memory. "I wish I'd had one. I should like to see your sister act Katherine. I suppose it's quite impossible to get one at this late hour?"

"I'm afraid so. It's really not at all strange that any one is left out of the list of invitations," Ruth hastened to make clear. "You see, each girl is allowed only six, and that usually takes just her family or nearest friends. And if you are only a distant cousin of Olivia's--"

"It's not at all strange that she shouldn't ask me, for I'm afraid I've neglected to avail myself of former invitations of hers," admitted Richard, ruefully. "Too bad. Punishment for such neglect usually follows--and I certainly have it now. I know the Stuart Hendersons, though--I wonder--Never mind, Miss Ruth, don't look so sorry. You'll tell me about it afterward, some time, won't you?"

"Indeed I will. Oh, it's been such an exciting day. Rob's been rehearsing her lines all day--when she wasn't trying on. She says she could have played Petruchio much better, because she's had to coach Olivia Cartwright for that part so much more than she's had to coach Ethel for Katherine. But, then, she knows the whole play--she could take any part. She would have loved to play Petruchio, though, on account of the boots and the slashing round the stage the way he does. But I think it's just as well, for Katherine certainly slashes, too--and Rob's not quite tall enough for Petruchio."

"I'm glad she plays Katherine," said Richard Kendrick decidedly. "I can't imagine your sister in boots! I've no doubt, though, she'd make them different from other boots--if she wore them!"

"Of course she would," agreed Ruth. Then she began to talk about something else, for a bit of fear had come into her mind that Rob wouldn't enjoy all this discussion of herself, if she should know about it.

She was such an honest young person, however, that she had a good deal of difficulty, when she had done her errand and was at home again, in not telling Roberta of her meeting with Richard Kendrick. She did venture to ask a question.

"Is Mr. Kendrick invited for to-night, Rob?"

"Not by me," Roberta responded promptly.

"He might be, by one of the girls, I suppose?"

"The girls invite whom they like. I haven't seen the list. I don't imagine he would be on it. I hope not, certainly."

"Why? Don't you think he would enjoy it?"

"No, I do not. Musical comedies are probably more to his taste than amateur productions of Shakespeare. But I'm not thinking about the audience--the players are enough for me." Then, suddenly, an idea which flashed into her mind caused her to turn and scan Ruth's ingenuous young face.

"You haven't been inviting Mr. Kendrick yourself, Rufus?"

"Why, how could I?" But the girl flushed rosily in a way which betrayed her interest. "I just--wondered."

"How did you come to wonder? Have you seen him?"

Ruth being Ruth, there was nothing to do but to tell Roberta of the encounter with Richard. "He said he was glad you were to play Katherine, because he couldn't imagine you in boots," she added, hoping this news might appease her sister. But it did nothing of the sort.

"As if it made the slightest difference to him! But if he feels that way, I wish I were to wear the boots, and I wish he might be there to see me do it. As it is, I hope Mrs. Stuart Henderson will be deaf to his audacity, if he dares to ask an invitation. It would be quite like him!"

"I don't see why--" began Ruth.

But Roberta interrupted her. "There are lots of things you don't see, little sister," said she, with a swift and impetuous embrace of the slender form beside her. Then she turned, frowned, flung out her arm, and broke into one of Katherine's flaming speeches:

"'Why, sir, I trust, I may have leave to speak:
And speak I will: I am no child, no babe:
Your betters have endured me say my mind
And if you cannot, best you stop your ears.'"

"Oh, but you do have such a lovely voice!" cried Ruth. "You can't make even the Shrew sound shrewish--in her tone, I mean."

"Can't I, indeed? Wait till to-night! If your friend Mr. Kendrick is to be there I'll be more shrewish than you ever dreamed--it will be a real stimulus!"

Ruth shook her head in dumb wonder that any one could be so impervious to the charms of the young man who so appealed to her youthful imagination. Three hours afterward, when she turned in her chair, in the Stuart Henderson ballroom, at the summons of a low voice in her ear, to find Richard Kendrick in the row behind her, she wondered afresh what there could possibly be about him to rouse her sister's antagonism. His face was such an interesting one, his eyes so clear and their glance so straightforward, his fresh colour so pleasant to note, his whole personality so attractive, Ruth could only answer him in the happiest way at her command with a subdued but eager: "Oh, I'm so glad you came!"

"That's due to Mrs. Cartwright's wonderful kindness. She's the mother of Petruchio, you know," explained Richard, with a smiling glance at the gorgeously gowned woman beside him, who leaned forward also to say to Ruth:

"What is one to do with a sweetly apologetic young cousin who begs to be allowed to come, at the last moment, to view his cousin in doublet and hose? But I really didn't venture to tell Olivia. She would have fled from the stage if she had guessed that cousin Richard, whom she greatly admires, was to be here. I can only hope she will not hear of it till the play is over."

"If his being here is going to make Petruchio tremble more, and Katherine act naughtier, I shall feel dreadfully guilty," thought Ruth. But somehow when the curtain went up she could not help being glad that he was there, behind her.

Roberta had said much, in hours of relaxation after long and tense rehearsals, of the difficulty of making schoolgirls forget themselves in any part. It had been difficult, indeed, to train her pupils to speak and act with naturalness in roles so foreign to their experience. But she had been much more successful than she had dared to believe, and her own enthusiasm, her tireless drilling, above all her inspiring example as she spoke her girls' lines for them and demonstrated to them each telling detail of stage business, had done the work with astonishing effect. The hardest task of all had been to find and develop a satisfactory delineator of the difficult part of the Tamer of the Shrew, but Roberta had persevered, even taking a journey of some hours with Olivia Cartwright to have her see and study one of the greatest of Petruchios at two successive performances. She had succeeded in stimulating Olivia to a real determination to be worthy of her teacher's expressed belief in her, even to the mastering of her girlish tendency to let her voice revert to a high-keyed feminine quality just when it needed to be deepest and most stern.

The audience, as the play began, was in the customary benevolent mood of audiences beholding amateur productions, ready to see good if possible, anxious to show favour to all the young actors and to praise without discrimination, aware of the proximity of proud fathers and mothers. But this audience soon found itself genuinely interested and amused, and with the first advent of the enchanting Shrew herself became absorbed in her personality and her fortunes quite as it might have been in those of any talented actress of reputation.

To Ruth, sitting wide eyed and hot cheeked, her sister seemed the most spirited and bewitching Katherine ever played. Her shrewishness was that of the wilful madcap girl who has never been crossed rather than that of the inherently ill-tempered woman, and her every word and gesture, her every expression of face and tone of voice, were worth noting and watching. By no means finished work--as how should it be, in a young teacher but few years out of school herself--it yet had an originality and freshness of interpretation all its own, and the applause which praised it was very spontaneous and genuine. Roberta had been the joy of her class in college dramatics, and several of her former classmates, in her audience to-night, gleefully told one another that she was surpassing anything she had formerly done.

"It's simply superb, you know, don't you?--your sister's acting," said Richard Kendrick's voice in Ruth's ear again at the end of the first act, and she turned her burning cheek his way as she answered happily:

"It seems so to me--but then I'm prejudiced, you know."

"We're all prejudiced, when it comes to that--made so by this performance. I'm pretty proud of my cousin Petruchio, too," he went on, including Mrs. Cartwright at his side. "I'd no idea boots could be so becoming to any girl--outside of a chorus. Olivia's splendid. Do you suppose"--he was addressing Ruth again--"you and I might go behind the scenes and tell them how we feel about it?"

"Oh, no, indeed, Mr. Kendrick," Ruth replied, much shocked. "It's lots different, a girls' play like this, from the regular theatre. They'd be so astonished to see you. Rob's told me, heaps of times, how they go perfectly crazy after every act, and she has all she can do to keep them cool enough for the next. She'd never forgive us. And besides, Olivia Cartwright's not to know you're here, you know."

"That's true. I'd forgotten how disturbing my presence is supposed to be," and Richard leaned back again to laugh with Mrs. Cartwright.

But, behind the scenes, the news had penetrated, nobody knew just how. Roberta learned, to her surprise and distraction, that Richard Kendrick was somehow a particularly interesting figure in the eyes of her young players, and she speedily discovered that they were all more or less excited at the knowledge that he was somewhere below the footlights. Olivia, indeed, was immediately in a flutter, quite as her mother had predicted, at the thought of Cousin Richard's eyes upon her in her masculine attire; and Roberta, in the brief interval she could spare for the purpose, had to take her sternly in hand. An autocratic Katherine might, then, have been overheard addressing a flurried Petruchio, in a corner:

"For pity's sake, child, who is he that you need be afraid of him? He's no critic, I'll wager, and if he's your cousin he'll be sure to think you act like a veteran, anyhow. Forget him, and go ahead. You're doing splendidly. Don't you dare slump just because you're remembering your audience!"

"Oh, of course I'll try, Miss Gray," replied an extremely feminine voice from beneath Petruchio's fierce mustachios. "But Richard Kendrick really is awfully sort of upsetting, don't you know?"

"Of course I don't know," denied Roberta promptly. "As long as Miss Copeland herself is pleased with us, nobody else matters. And Miss Copeland is delighted--she sent me special word just now. So stiffen your backbone, Petruchio, and make this next dialogue with me as rapid as you know. Come back at me like flash-fire--don't lag a breath--we'll stir the house to laughter, or know the reason why. Ready?"

Her firm hand on Olivia's arm, her bracing words in Olivia's ear, put courage back into her temporarily stage-struck "leading man," and Olivia returned to the charge determined to play up to her teacher without lagging. In truth, Roberta's actual presence on the stage was proving a distinct advantage to those of the players who had parts with her. She warmed and held them to their tasks with the flash of her own eyes, not to mention an occasional almost imperceptible but pregnant gesture, and they found themselves somehow able to "forget the audience," as she had so many times advised them to do, the better that she herself seemed so completely to have forgotten it.

The work of the young actors grew better with each act, and at the end of the fourth, when the curtain went down upon a scene which had been all storm on the part of the players and all laughter on the part of the audience, the applause was long and hearty. There were calls for the entire cast, and when they had several times responded there was a special and persistent demand for Katherine herself, in the character of the producer of the play. She refused it until she could no longer do so without discourtesy; then she came before the curtain and said a few winsome words of gratitude on behalf of her "company."

Ruth, staring up at her sister's face brilliant with the mingled exertion and emotion of the hour, and thinking her the prettiest picture there against the great dull-blue silk curtain of the stage she had ever seen, had no notion that just behind her somebody was thinking the same thing with a degree of fervour far beyond her own. Richard Kendrick's heart was thumping vigorously away in his breast as he looked his fill at the figure before the curtain, secure in the darkness of the house from observation at the moment.

When he had first met this girl he had told himself that he would soon know her well, would soon call her by her name. He wondered at himself that he could possibly have fancied conquest of her so easy. He was not a whit nearer knowing her, he was obliged to acknowledge, than on that first day, nor did he see any prospect of getting to know her--beyond a certain point. Her chosen occupation seemed to place her beyond his reach; she was not to be got at by the ordinary methods of approach. Twice he had called and asked for her, to be told that she was busy with school papers and must be excused. Once he had ventured to invite her to go with Mrs. Stephen and himself to a carefully chosen play and a supper, but she had declined, gracefully enough--but she had declined, and Mrs. Stephen also. He could not make these people out, he told himself. Did they and he live in such different worlds that they could never meet on common ground?

The Taming of the Shrew came to a triumphant end; the curtain fell upon the effective closing scene in which the lovely Shrew, become a richly loving and tender wife, without, somehow, surrendering a particle of her exquisite individuality, spoke her words of wisdom to other wives. Richard smiled to himself as he heard the lines fall from Roberta's lips. And beneath his breath he said:

"I don't see how you can bring yourself to say them, you modern girl. You'd never let a real husband feel his power that way, I'll wager. If you did--well--it would go to his head, I'm sure of that. What an idiot I am to think I could ever make her look at me the way she looked even at that schoolgirl Petruchio--with a clever imitation of devotion. O Roberta Gray! But I'd rather worship you across the footlights than take any other girl in my arms. And somehow--somehow I've got to make you at least respect me. At least that, Roberta! Then--perhaps--more!"

At Ruth's side, when the play was ended, Richard hoped to attain at least the chance to speak to Ruth's sister. The young players all appeared upon the stage, the curtain being raised for the rest of the evening, and the audience came up, group by group, to offer congratulations and pour into gratified ears the praise which was the reward of labour. Richard succeeded in getting by degrees into the immediate vicinity of Roberta, who was continuously surrounded by happy parents bent on presenting their felicitations. But just as he was about to make his way to her side a diversion occurred which took her completely away from him. A girl near by, who on account of physical frailty had had a minor part, grew suddenly faint, and in a trice Roberta had impressed into her service a strong pair of male arms, nearer at hand than Richard's, and had had the slim little figure carried behind the scenes, herself following.

Ten minutes later he learned from Ruth that Roberta had gone back to Miss Copeland's school with the girl, recovered but weak.

"Couldn't anybody else have gone?" he inquired, considerable impatience in his voice.

"Of course--lots of people could, and would. Only it's just like Rob to seize the chance to get away from this, and not come back. You'll see--she won't. She hates being patted on the back, as she calls it. I never can see why, when people mean it, as I'm sure they do to-night. She's the queerest girl. She never wants what you'd think she would, or wants it the way other people do. But she's awfully dear, just the same," Ruth hastened to add, fearful lest she seem to criticise the beloved sister. "And somehow you don't get tired of her, the way you do of some people. Perhaps that's just because she's different."

"I suspect it is," Richard agreed with conviction. Certainly, a girl who would run away from such adulation as she had been receiving must be, he considered, decidedly and interestingly "different." He only wished he might hit upon some "different" way to pique her interest.