“One moment—of course, you can’t stay here,” said the girl.
“I had intended to go at once, as I told you,” observed Mr. Heatherbloom.
“You had? You mean you will?”
“No; I won’t go now. That is,” he added, “of my own volition.”
“You do well to qualify. Would you not prefer to go of your own volition than to have me inform my aunt who you are—what you are?”
He shook his head. “I won’t resign now,” he said.
“And so show yourself a fool as well as—” She did not speak the word, but it trembled on the sweet passionate lips.
He did not answer.
“Suppose,” she went on, “I offer you the chance and do not speak, if you will go—immediately?”
“I can’t,” he answered.
Her brows bent; her little hand seemed to clench. But he stood without looking at her, appearing absorbed in a tiny bit of cloud in the sky.
“Very well!” she said, a dangerous glint in her eyes.
He looked quite insignificant at the moment; she was far above him; his clothes were threadbare, the way thieves’ clothes, or pickpockets’, usually are.
“If you expect any mercy from me—” she began.
But she did not finish; a figure, approaching, caught her eye—the handsome stalwart figure of a man; whose features lighted at sight of her.
“Ah, Miss Dalrymple!”
Her face changed. “An unexpected pleasure, Prince,” she said with almost an excess of gaiety.
He answered in kind; she came down the steps quickly, offering him her hand. And as he gallantly raised the small perfumed fingers to his lips, Mr. Heatherbloom seemed to fade away into the dark subterranean entrance.
FATE AT THE DOOR
Although Mr. Heatherbloom waited expectantly that day for his dismissal, it did not come. This surprised him somewhat; then he reflected that Miss Elizabeth Dalrymple was probably so absorbed in the prince—remembering her rather effusive greeting of that fortunate individual—she had forgotten such a small matter as having the dog valet ejected from the premises. She would remember on the morrow, of course.
But she didn’t! The hours passed, and he was suffered to go about the even, or uneven, tenor of his way. This he did mechanically; he scrubbed and combed Beauty beautifully. With a dire sense of fate knocking at the door, he passed her on to Miss Van Rolsen, to be freshly be-ribboned by that lady’s own particular hand. The thin bony finger he thought would be pointed accusingly at him, busied itself solely with the knots and bows of a new ribbon; after which the grim lady dismissed him—from her presence, not the house—curtly.