It could not be only three hours since she had been so happy! It must be more than that! What had happened? Had she made a fool of herself? Ought she to have behaved in any other way? Perhaps Spencer had come out to look for her after she had gone upstairs and, not finding her, had gone back to Miss LeMar to show her he was angry. This poor hope was a small comfort.

She must help. "Mrs. Noble," said Constance calmly, "can you trust me?" She shot a quick glance at Constance. "Yes," she murmured. "Then to-night visit Mrs. LeMar as though nothing had happened. Meanwhile I will have thought out a plan." It was late in the afternoon when Constance saw Halsey again, this time in his office, where he had been waiting impatiently for some word from her.

He was a handsome fellow, with a magnificent physique. Miss LeMar stopped singing and turned around on the organ stool as they entered. The little room was flooded with a mellow light from the pink-globed lamp on the table, and in the soft, shadowy radiance she was as beautiful as a dream. She wore a dress of crepe, cut low in the neck. Estella had never seen anyone dressed so before.

She had lit the lamp and was listlessly arranging the little room. She looked old and worn. Her colour was gone and her eyes were dull. As she worked, the door opened and Vivienne LeMar walked or, rather, reeled into the room. Estella dropped the book she held and gazed at her as one in a dream. The actress's face was flushed and her hair was wildly disordered.

If you don't care, I don't know that anyone else need." Estella went about her work like one in a dream. A great hatred had sprung up in her heart against Vivienne LeMar. The simple-hearted country girl felt almost murderous. The whole day seemed like a nightmare to her. When night came she dressed herself with feverish care, for she could not quell the hope that Spencer would surely come again.

Her eyes glittered with an unearthly light. She was talking incoherently. The air was heavy with the fumes of brandy. Estella laughed hysterically. Vivienne LeMar was grossly intoxicated. This woman whom Spencer Morgan worshipped, for whom he had forsaken her, was reeling about the room, laughing idiotically, talking wildly in a thick voice. If he could but see her now!

The faces were too tense, too hectic. The play was too high, and the desire to win too great. Mrs. LeMar was something more than a gracious hostess in her solicitude for her guests. All the time the pile of chips in front of Watson kept building up. At each new deal a white chip was placed in a little box the kitty for the "cards and refreshments."

Spencer never sought her again; he went everywhere with Miss LeMar. His infatuation was the talk of the settlement. Estella knew that her story was in everyone's mouth, and her pride smarted; but she carried a brave front outwardly. No one should say she cared. She believed that the actress was merely deluding Spencer for her own amusement and would never dream of marrying him.

She would go down and confront Vivienne LeMar she would rush off and find Spencer and throw his ring at him, no matter where he was she would go away where no one would ever see her again. Why couldn't she die? Was it possible people could suffer like this and yet go on living?

There was something in the tone of the whimsicality that alarmed her. It covered a desperation which she felt instinctively. Why was he talking thus to her, almost a stranger? Surely it could not have been for that that Bella LeMar had brought them together. Gradually it came to her. The man had really, honestly been struck by her from the moment of their introduction.