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Let that woman step aside into the benches of the spectators, those who have served their purpose and must become wet-nurses, child-dryers, infant-teachers, perambulator-motors, question-answerers, nose-blowers, mischief-punishers, cradleside-bards. Charity laughed derisively at the vision of Zada as a mother.

They left at the table a man in evening dress who smoked a big cigar and seemed not to be jealous of the two dancers. Some one among the spectators about Kedzie said that the woman was Zada L'Etoile, and her partner was Haviland Devoe.

She remembered Cheever's purchase of the theater tickets, and she was startled with an intuition that he would take his wife in her place. Men are capable of such indecent economies. Zada was suffocated with rage at the possibility. She always believed implicitly in the worst things she could think of. If Peter Cheever dared do such a thing! And of course he would! Well, she would just find out!

Zada was there alone in a box, dressed in her best, and wearing her East-Lynniest look of pathos. The coincidence was not occult. After several hours of brave battle with grief and a lonely dinner Zada had been faced by the appalling prospect of an evening alone.

In the porches of her ear the hateful courtship purled on with its tender third-personal terms and its amorous diminutives, suffixed ridiculously. "Zada was afaid her booful Peterkin had forgotten her and gone to the big old house." "Without coming home first?" "Home! that's the wordie I want. This is his homie, isn't it, Peterkin?" "Yessy." "He doesn't love old villain who keeps us apart?"

It meant that Cheever under the white cloak of matrimony had despoiled Charity of her innocence, and under the red domino of intrigue had restored to Zada hers.

"What do you mean nearly alone?" "Well, what he had with him is my idea of next to nothing. I wonder what sinking ship Cheever rescued her from. They tell me she was a cabaret dancer named Zada L'Etoile that's French for Sadie Starr, I suppose." Dyckman's obsession escaped him. "Somebody ought to write his wife about it." "That would be nice!" cried Prissy. "Oh, very, very nice!

I'll think it over for a few months. It's bad weather for divorces now, anyway." Cheever's heart churned in his breast. He knew that Zada could not afford to wait. He should have married her long ago, and there was no time to spare now. Charity's indifference frightened him. He did not dream that through the dictagraph Charity had shared with him Zada's annunciation of her approaching motherhood.

He supposed that she was as ignorant of the affair with Zada as he wanted her to be. He wished that he could pretend to be unconcerned, but he could not keep his program from shivering; his throat was full of phlegm; he choked on the simplest words. He thought for some trick of escape, a pretended illness, a remembered business engagement, a disgust with the play.

When Zada complained that she had had a dreadful day of blues Cheever made jokes for her as for a child, and she laughed like the child she was. For her amusement he even went to a piano and played, with blundering three-chord accompaniment, a song or two. He played jokes on the keyboard.