Mr. Heatherbloom had but dimly heard the prince’s words and failed to grasp them; he didn’t want to; his head was humming. Her light answer sounded as if she might be very happy. Yes; naturally. She was made to be happy, to dance about like sunshine. He liked to think of the picture. The prince, too, was necessary to complete it; necessary, reaffirmed Mr. Heatherbloom to himself, pulling with damp fingers at the inconsequential lock of hair over his brow. Of course, if the prince could be eliminated from that mental picture of her felicity?—but he was a part of the composition; big, barbaric, romantic looking! In fact, it wouldn’t have been an adequate composition at all without him; no, indeed!
And something rose in Mr. Heatherbloom’s throat; one of his eyes—or was it both of them?—seemed a little misty. That confounded soap! It was strong; a bit of it in the corner of the eyes made one blink.
The two in the conservatory said something more; but the young man in the “boudoir” didn’t catch it at all well. By some intense mental process, or the sound of the scrubber on the edge of the tub, he found he could shut a definite cognizance of words almost entirely from his sense of hearing. The prince’s voice seemed slightly louder; that, in a general way, was patent; no doubt the occasion warranted more fervor on his part. Mr. Heatherbloom tried to imagine what she would look like in—so to say, a very complaisant mood; not with flaming glance full of aversion and scorn!
Violet eyes replete only with love lights! Mr. Heatherbloom bent lower over the tub; his four-footed charge Beauty, contentedly immersed to the neck in nice comfortably warm water, licked him. He did not feel the touch; the fragrance of orchids seemed to come to him above that other more healthful, less agreeable odor of special cleansing preparation.
Her accents were heard once more. Those final words sounded like a soft command. Naturally! She could command the prince—now! Mr. Heatherbloom heard a door close—a replica of the harsh click he had listened to when she had shut the front door so unceremoniously on him a short time before. Then he heard nothing more. He gazed around him as he sat with his hands tightly closed. Had it been only a dream? Naughty whined; Sardanapolis edged toward him and mechanically he began to brush him down until he shone as sleek and shining as his Assyrian namesake.
More days passed and Mr. Heatherbloom continued to linger in his last position. It promised to be a record-making situation from the standpoint of longevity; he had never “lasted” at any one task so long before. Miss Van Rolsen, to his consternation, seemed to unbend somewhat before him, as if she were beginning—actually!—to be more prepossessed in his favor. These evidences that he was rising in the stern lady’s good graces filled Mr. Heatherbloom with new dismay; destiny certainly seemed to be making a mock of him.