Others had fallen for that ethereal beauty, wistful and dream-like, the red-gold hair, thelaughing sapphire eyes, the dainty ways of her, but in so short a while they had seenthrough her. Still, none of them had been as wealthy as Michael. Lorette was shrewd beneath that naive exterior; perhaps this time Lorette would think it worth while tocontinue to show her best side to Michael, to his mother and stepfather, overcome her bone laziness, her selfishness.She had certainly marked Micheal down for her own. From the moment Michael hadshown them the colored slides of his home, had mentioned that their Argyll Hillshomestead had been chosen as one of the homes to rest Royalty on their last tour, Lorettehad been determined to become Mrs. Michael Argyll. He was the only son, another happy circumstance.Lorette and Michael had become engaged before he returned to his home in NewZealand. In less than a month his mother had sent for Lorette. It had been a graciousletter, warm and friendly. It had suggested that Lorette go to Argyll Hills in the SouthIsland and remain there till her wedding. Only one phrase had given Judith the leastuneasiness. It had said: "So we can get to know you better."Lorette had been there just over a month and must be happy, for there had been only one brief lettercard, written the day after her arrival, full of purring content.Judith had given her all the cash she could spare, since Lorette was a free spender andmustn't appear to be penniless. Knowing Lorette, she had given her half then and the promise of the other half in two months' time. Since the wedding was to be early in thenew year this should suffice, she had pointed out, and had added: "In any case, therewon't be any more, Lorette… I'm giving up my job teaching and concentrating on painting. So it's a fair warning"Lorette had flung her arms about her, all sunshine and sweetness (naturally, Judiththought, with half the money to come), and said, "Judith, my darling pet, I've been a soretrial to you, haven't I? But I can't help it; I was born that way, and Mummy spoiled me.But you've shed your responsibility now, darling. Michael's got plenty and to spare."Judith stopped musing. Time to be going on with her new, free life. She got out of bed,tall and slim in pyjamas, her long smooth hair caught back with a white ribbon, wanderedout into the studio, gazed critically at her canvas, picked up a towel, went into the shower room.Finally she emerged from her bedroom, trim, workman- like, lithe, with a buoyancy inher step that had been missing for a long time. She wore blue cotton slacks and a tailoredwhite blouse that would be covered with a paint-stained smock later, and there werewhite sandals on her bare brown feet. The smooth hair was brushed back and twisted intoa knot at the top of her head, as glossy as an acorn, the grey eyes clear, eager. Tomorrowwas hers.