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CHAPTER 3. The Egotist Considers
"Ouch! Let me go!"
He dropped his arms to his sides.
"What's the matter?"
"Your shirt stud--it hurt me--look!" She was looking down at her neck,
where a little blue spot about the size of a pea marred its pallor.
"Oh, Isabelle," he reproached himself, "I'm a goopher. Really, I'm
sorry--I shouldn't have held you so close."
She looked up impatiently.
"Oh, Amory, of course you couldn't help it, and it didn't hurt much; but
what _are_ we going to do about it?"
"_Do_ about it?" he asked. "Oh--that spot; it'll disappear in a second."
"It isn't," she said, after a moment of concentrated gazing, "it's still
there--and it looks like Old Nick--oh, Amory, what'll we do! It's _just_
the height of your shoulder."
"Massage it," he suggested, repressing the faintest inclination to
She rubbed it delicately with the tips of her fingers, and then a tear
gathered in the corner of her eye, and slid down her cheek.
"Oh, Amory," she said despairingly, lifting up a most pathetic face,
"I'll just make my whole neck _flame_ if I rub it. What'll I do?"
A quotation sailed into his head and he couldn't resist repeating it
"All the perfumes of Arabia will not whiten this little hand."
She looked up and the sparkle of the tear in her eye was like ice.
"You're not very sympathetic."
Amory mistook her meaning.
"Isabelle, darling, I think it'll--"
"Don't touch me!" she cried. "Haven't I enough on my mind and you stand
there and _laugh!_"
Then he slipped again.
"Well, it _is_ funny, Isabelle, and we were talking the other day about
a sense of humor being--"
She was looking at him with something that was not a smile, rather the
faint, mirthless echo of a smile, in the corners of her mouth.
"Oh, shut up!" she cried suddenly, and fled down the hallway toward her
room. Amory stood there, covered with remorseful confusion.
When Isabelle reappeared she had thrown a light wrap about her
shoulders, and they descended the stairs in a silence that endured
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