Mr. Kennaston paused, with a slight air of apology.
“If I were you,” he suggested, pleasantly, “I would move a little—just a little—to the left. That will enable you to obtain to a fuller extent the benefit of the sunbeam which is falling—quite by accident, of course—upon your hair. You are perfectly right, Margaret, in selecting that hedge as a background. Its sombre green sets you off to perfection.”
He went away chuckling. He felt that Margaret must think him a devil of a fellow.
She didn’t, though.
“The idea of his suspecting me of such unconscionable vanity!” she said, properly offended. Then, “Anyhow, a man has no business to know about such things,” she continued, with rising indignation. “I believe Felix Kennaston is as good a judge of chiffons as any woman. That’s effeminate, I think, and catty and absurd. I don’t believe I ever liked him—not really, that is. Now, what would Billy care about sunbeams and backgrounds, I’d like to know! He’d never even notice them. Billy is a man. Why, that’s just what father said yesterday!” Margaret cried, and afterward laughed happily. “I suppose old people are right sometimes—but, dear, dear, they’re terribly unreasonable at others!”
Having thus uttered the ancient, undying plaint of youth, Miss Hugonin moved a matter of two inches to the left, and smiled, and waited contentedly. It was barely possible some one might come that way; and it is always a comfort to know that one is not exactly repulsive in appearance.
Also, there was the spring about her; and, chief of all, there was a queer fluttering in her heart that was yet not unpleasant. In fine, she was unreasonably happy for no reason at all.
I believe the foolish poets call this feeling love and swear it is divine; however, they will say anything for the sake of an ear-tickling jingle. And while it is true that scientists have any number of plausible and interesting explanations for this same feeling, I am sorry to say I have forgotten them.
I am compelled, then, to fall back upon those same unreliable, irresponsible rhymesters, and to insist with them that a maid waiting in the springtide for the man she loves is necessarily happy and very rarely puzzles her head over the scientific reason for it.
But ten minutes later she saw Mr. Woods in the distance striding across the sunlit terraces, and was seized with a conviction that their interview was likely to prove a stormy one. There was an ominous stiffness in his gait.
“Oh, dear, dear!” Miss Hugonin wailed; “he’s in a temper now, and he’ll probably be just as disagreeable as it’s possible for any one to be. I do wish men weren’t so unreasonable! He looks exactly like a big, blue-eyed thunder-cloud just now—just now, when I’m sure he has every cause in the world to be very much pleased—after all I’ve done for him. He makes me awfully tired. I think he’s very ungrateful. I—I think I’m rather afraid.”