“No, of course not. Good-night, and—thank you, Doctor!”
“And I am not to be allowed to walk home with you?”
“Truly, I would rather not.”
“Then good-night, and don’t worry.”
He watched her flit down the dusky path, heard the click of the gate latch, and turned back into the office to wonder why it seemed suddenly bare and empty!
Mrs. Coombe had been in the city a week when one morning Ann, who was feeling lonely without Jane, sat swinging upon the five-barred gate and whistling intermittently for Bubble. She had become very tired of waiting. She knew that Bubble could hear. The five-barred gate was within easy hearing distance of the house, and both doors and windows of the office were open. Therefore it became each moment more evident that the whistles were being deliberately ignored.
“Horrid, nasty boy!” exclaimed Ann, climbing to a precarious seat on the highest of the five bars. “Well, if he waits until I come to get him, he’ll—just wait!”
It was very hot on the gate. The vacant field on the other side, where the Widow Peel pastured her cow, was hot, too, but if one cut across the field and circled the back of the Widow Peel’s cottage one substantially lessened the distance between oneself and the cool deliciousness of the river. The Widow Peel was near-sighted and hardly ever noticed one rushing over her beds of lettuce and carrots and onions, or if she did, she could not “fit a name to ’em.”
Ann sighed and swung her brown legs. Should she or should she not go in search of Bubble? Going would mean a distasteful swallowing of proper pride; not going would mean—no Bubble. It would be a case of cutting off one’s nose—Ann’s small white teeth came together with a little click.
“I’ll go. But I’ll pay him out afterwards.”
With this thoroughly feminine decision she tumbled off the gate, raced across the orchard and, having paused a moment to regain breath and poise, appeared casually at the office door. The office looked cool and empty; Bubble was not upon his official stool. Perhaps, after all, he had not heard the whistles! Perhaps—
“What d’ye want?” asked a gruff voice from behind the desk.
Ann jumped, and then tried to look as if she hadn’t.
“I knew you were there!” she said. “But just you wait till the doctor catches you at it!” Mounting the step she frowned across at Bubble who, in the doctor’s favourite attitude, was reclining in the doctor’s chair. “I suppose you think you look like him, but you don’t, nor act like him either. If he was sitting there and a lady came in, he’d be up too quick for anything. And if the lady was polite and stayed on the doorstep (just like I am) he would say, ‘Pray come in, madam,’ and then he’d set a chair and—”