“Ah! I dare say that is the usual reason. Yes,” said Colonel Musgrave,—“because she is the woman he loves and cannot help loving!”
Anne clapped her hands. “Ah, so I have penetrated your indifference at last, sir!”
Impulsively, she laid her hand upon his arm, and spoke with earnestness. “Dear Rudolph, I am so glad you’ve found the woman you can really love. Jack says there is only one possible woman in the world for each man, and that only in a month of Sundays does he find her.”
“Yes.” said Musgrave. He had risen, and was looking down in friendly fashion into her honest, lovely eyes. “Yes, there is only one possible woman. And—yes, I think I found her, Anne, some years ago.”
Thus it befell that all passed smoothly with Rudolph Musgrave and Anne Charteris, with whom he was not in the least in love any longer (he reflected), although in the nature of things she must always seem to him a little different from all other people.
And it befell, too, that the following noon—this day being a Sunday, warm, clear, and somnolent—Anne Charteris and Rudolph Musgrave sat upon the lawn before Matocton, and little Roger Musgrave was with them. In fact, these two had been high-handedly press-ganged by this small despot to serve against an enemy then harassing his majesty’s equanimity and by him, revilingly, designated as Nothing-to-do.
And so Anne made for Roger—as she had learned to do for her dead son—in addition to a respectable navy of paper boats, a vast number of “boxes” and “Nantucket sinks” and “picture frames” and “footballs.” She had used up the greater part of a magazine before the imp grew tired of her novel accomplishments.
For as he invidiously observed, “I can make them for myself now, most as good as you, only I always tear the bottom of the boat when you pull it out, and my sinks are kind of wobbly. And besides, I’ve made up a story just like your husband gets money for doing. And if I had a quarter I would buy that green and yellow snake in the toy-store window and wiggle it at people and scare them into fits.”
“Sonnikins,” said Colonel Musgrave, “suppose you tell us the story, and then we will see if it is really worth a quarter, and try to save you from this unblushing mendicancy.”
“Well, God bless Father and Mother and little cousins—Oh, no, that’s what I say at night.” Roger’s voice now altered, assuming shrill singsong cadences. His pensive gravity would have appeared excessive if manifested by the Great Sphinx. “What I meant to say was that once upon a time when the Battle of Gettysburg was going on and houses were being robbed and burned, and my dear grandfather was being shot through the heart, a certain house, where the richest man in town lived, was having feast and merriment, never dreaming of any harm, or thinking of their little child Rachel,