"No," laughed Joan. "At least, I don't think so."
"They do sometimes," answered Hilda, "if you happen to be in the way, near the feeding troughs. If they'd only put all the refreshments into one room, one could avoid it. But they will scatter them about so that one never knows for certain whether one is in the danger zone or not. I hate a mob."
"Oh, I!" answered the girl. "I go everywhere where there's a chance of picking up a swell husband. They've got to come to these shows, they can't help themselves. One never knows what incident may give one one's opportunity."
Joan shot a glance. The girl was evidently serious.
"You think it would prove a useful alliance?" she suggested.
"It would help, undoubtedly," the girl answered. "I don't see any other way of getting hold of them."
Joan seated herself on one of the chairs ranged round the walls, and drew the girl down beside her. Through the closed door, the mingled voices of the Foreign Secretary's guests sounded curiously like the buzzing of flies.
"It's quite easy," said Joan, "with your beauty. Especially if you're not going to be particular. But isn't there danger of your devotion to your father leading you too far? A marriage founded on a lie--no matter for what purpose!--mustn't it degrade a woman-- smirch her soul for all time? We have a right to give up the things that belong to ourselves, but not the things that belong to God: our truth, our sincerity, our cleanliness of mind and body; the things that He may one day want of us. It led you into evil once before. Don't think I'm judging you. I was no better than you. I argued just as you must have done. Something stopped me just in time. That was the only difference between us."