Bobby grinned appreciatively. He was good to look at, with his big frame, his head of rough dark hair, the sky warm upon his clear skin and full mouth. Di suddenly announced that she would be willing to elope now.
“I’ve planned eloping lots of times,” she said ambiguously.
It flashed across the mind of Bobby that in these plans of hers he may not always have been the principal, and he could not be sure ... But she talked in nothings, and he answered her so.
Soft cries sounded in the centre of the stream. The boat, well out of the strong current, was seen to have its oars shipped; and there sat Dwight Herbert gently rocking the boat. Dwight Herbert would.
“Bertie, Bertie—please!” you heard his Ina say.
Monona began to cry, and her father was irritated, felt that it would be ignominious to desist, and did not know that he felt this. But he knew that he was annoyed, and he took refuge in this, and picked up the oars with: “Some folks never can enjoy anything without spoiling it.”
“That’s what I was thinking,” said Ina, with a flash of anger.
They glided toward the shore in a huff. Monona found that she enjoyed crying across the water and kept it up. It was almost as good as an echo. Ina, stepping safe to the sands, cried ungratefully that this was the last time that she would ever, ever go with her husband anywhere. Ever. Dwight Herbert, recovering, gauged the moment to require of him humour, and observed that his wedded wife was as skittish as a colt. Ina kept silence, head poised so that her full little chin showed double. Monona, who had previously hidden a cooky in her frock, now remembered it and crunched sidewise, the eyes ruminant.
Moving toward them, with Di, Bobby was suddenly overtaken by the sense of disliking them all. He never had liked Dwight Herbert, his employer. Mrs. Deacon seemed to him so overwhelmingly mature that he had no idea how to treat her. And the child Monona he would like to roll in the river. Even Di ... He fell silent, was silent on the walk home which was the signal for Di to tease him steadily. The little being was afraid of silence. It was too vast for her. She was like a butterfly in a dome.
But against that background of ruined occasion, Lulu walked homeward beside Ninian. And all that night, beside her mother who groaned in her sleep, Lulu lay tense and awake. He had walked home with her. He had told Ina and Herbert about going to the city. What did it mean? Suppose ... oh no; oh no!
“Either lay still or get up and set up,” Mrs. Bett directed her at length.
When, on a warm evening a fortnight later, Lulu descended the stairs dressed for her incredible trip to the city, she wore the white waist which she had often thought they would “use” for her if she died. And really, the waist looked as if it had been planned for the purpose, and its wide, upstanding plaited lace at throat and wrist made her neck look thinner, her forearm sharp and veined. Her hair she had “crimped” and parted in the middle, puffed high—it was so that hair had been worn in Lulu’s girlhood.