“But I didn’t want it,” he protested. “Good Lord, I’d only have done something foolish with it. It was awfully square of you, Peggy, to offer to divide, but I didn’t want it, you see. I don’t want to be a millionaire, and give up the rest of my life to founding libraries and explaining to people that if they never spend any money on amusements they’ll have a great deal by the time they’re too old to enjoy it. I’d rather paint pictures.”
So that I think Margaret must have endeavoured at some time to make him accept part of Frederick R. Woods’s money.
“You make me feel—and look—like a thief,” she reproved him.
Then Billy laughed a little. “You don’t look in the least like one,” he reassured her. “You look like an uncommonly honest, straightforward young woman,” Mr. Woods added, handsomely, “and I don’t believe you’d purloin under the severest temptation.”
She thanked him for his testimonial, with all three dimples in evidence.
This was unsettling. He hedged.
“Except, perhaps—” said he.
“Yes?” queried Margaret, after a pause.
However, she questioned him with her head drooped forward, her brows raised; and as this gave him the full effect of her eyes, Mr. Woods became quite certain that there was, at least, one thing she might be expected to rob him of, and wisely declined to mention it.
Margaret did not insist on knowing what it was. Perhaps she heard it thumping under his waistcoat, where it was behaving very queerly.
So they sat in silence for a while. Then Margaret fell a-humming to herself; and the air—will you believe it?—chanced by the purest accident to be that foolish, senseless old song they used to sing together four years ago.
Billy chuckled. “Let’s!” he obscurely pleaded.
Spring prompted her.
“Oh, where have you been, Billy boy?”
queried Margaret’s wonderful contralto,
“Oh, where have you been, Billy
boy, Billy boy?
Oh, where have you been, charming Billy?”
She sang it in a low, hushed voice, just over her breath. Not looking at him, however. And oh, what a voice! thought Billy Woods. A voice that was honey and gold and velvet and all that is most sweet and rich and soft in the world! Find me another voice like that, you prime donne! Find me a simile for it, you uninventive poets! Indeed, I’d like to see you do it.
But he chimed in, nevertheless, with his pleasant throaty baritone, and lilted his own part quite creditably.
“I’ve been to seek a wife,
She’s the joy of my life;
She’s a young thing, and cannot leave her mother”—
Only Billy sang it “father,” just as they used to do.
And then they sang it through, did Margaret and Billy—sang of the dimple in her chin and the ringlets in her hair, and of the cherry pies she achieved with such celerity—sang as they sat in the spring-decked meadow every word of that inane old song that is so utterly senseless and so utterly unforgettable.