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the door of the cafe, soon enough for the five-o'clock train back to
Yale or Princeton; about one-fourth continued on into the dimmer hours
and gathered strange dust from strange places. Their party was scheduled
to be one of the harmless kind. Fred Sloane and Phoebe Column were old
friends; Axia and Amory new ones. But strange things are prepared even
in the dead of night, and the unusual, which lurks least in the cafe,
home of the prosaic and inevitable, was preparing to spoil for him
the waning romance of Broadway. The way it took was so inexpressibly
terrible, so unbelievable, that afterward he never thought of it as
experience; but it was a scene from a misty tragedy, played far behind
the veil, and that it meant something definite he knew.
About one o'clock they moved to Maxim's, and two found them in
Deviniere's. Sloane had been drinking consecutively and was in a state
of unsteady exhilaration, but Amory was quite tiresomely sober; they
had run across none of those ancient, corrupt buyers of champagne who
usually assisted their New York parties. They were just through dancing
and were making their way back to their chairs when Amory became aware
that some one at a near-by table was looking at him. He turned and
glanced casually... a middle-aged man dressed in a brown sack suit, it
was, sitting a little apart at a table by himself and watching their
party intently. At Amory's glance he smiled faintly. Amory turned to
Fred, who was just sitting down.
"Who's that pale fool watching us?" he complained indignantly.
"Where?" cried Sloane. "We'll have him thrown out!" He rose to his feet
and swayed back and forth, clinging to his chair. "Where is he?"
Axia and Phoebe suddenly leaned and whispered to each other across the
table, and before Amory realized it they found themselves on their way
to the door.
"Up to the flat," suggested Phoebe. "We've got brandy and fizz--and
everything's slow down here to-night."
Amory considered quickly. He hadn't been drinking, and decided that if
he took no more, it would be reasonably discreet for him to trot along
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