He had already begun to lend her books, which she returned, always with some clever little criticism, often girlishly naive, but never merely conventional. There were brains under her bright hair. One day Henry had run out of literature, and asked her if she could lend him a book. Anything,—some novel he had read before; it didn’t matter. Oh, yes, he hadn’t read George Eliot for ever so long. Had she “The Mill on the Floss”? Yes, it had been a present from her father. She would bring that. As she lingered a moment, while Henry looked at the book, his eye fell upon a name on the title-page: “Angel Flower.”
“Is that your name, Miss Flower?” he said.
“Yes; father wrote it there. My real name is Angelica; but they call me Angel, for short,” she answered, smiling.
“Are you surprised?” said Henry, suddenly blushing like a girl, as though he had never ventured on such a small gallantry before. “Angelica! How did you come to get such a beautiful name?”
“Father loves beautiful names, and his grandmother was called Angelica.”
“I wonder if I might call you Angelica?” presently ventured Henry, in a low voice.
“Do you think you know me well enough?” said Angelica, with a little gasp, which was really joy, in her breath.
Henry didn’t answer; but their eyes met in a long, still look. In each heart behind the stillness was a storm of indescribable sweetness. Henry leaned forward, his face grown very pale, and impulsively took Angelica’s hand,—
“I think, after all, I’d rather call you Angel,” he said.
MIKE’S FIRST LAURELS
The gardens of Sidon had a curious habit of growing laurel-trees; laurels and rhododendrons were the only wear in shrubs. Rhododendrons one can understand. They are to the garden what mahogany is to the front parlour,—the bourgeoisie of the vegetable kingdom. But the laurel,—what use could they have for laurel in Sidon? Possibly they supplied it to the rest of the world,—market-gardeners, so to say, to the Temple of Fame; it could hardly be for home consumption. Well, at all events, it was a peculiarity fortunate for Esther’s purpose, as one morning, soon after breakfast, she went about the garden cutting the glossiest branches of the distinguished tree. As she filled her arms with them, she recalled with a smile the different purpose for which, dragged at the heels of one of Henry’s enthusiasms, she had gathered them several years before.
At that period Henry had been a mighty entomologist; and, as the late summer came on, he and all available sisters would set out, armed with butterfly-nets and other paraphernalia, just before twilight, to the nearest woodland, where they would proceed to daub the trees with an intoxicating preparation of honey and rum,—a temptation to which moths were declared in text-books to be incapable of resistance.