“Mary,” he said, “you seem very serious. Is anything bothering you?”
“No, Bibbs.” And she gave him a bright, quick look that made him instantly unreasonably happy.
“I know you want to go in—” he began.
“No. I don’t want to.”
“I mustn’t keep you standing here, and I mustn’t go in with you— but—I just wanted to say—I’ve seemed very stupid to myself this morning, grumbling about soot and all that—while all the time I— Mary, I think it’s been the very happiest of all the hours you’ve given me. I do. And—I don’t know just why—but it’s seemed to me that it was one I’d always remember. And you,” he added, falteringly, “you look so—so beautiful to-day!”
“It must have been the soot on my cheek, Bibbs.”
“Mary, will you tell me something?” he asked.
“I think I will.”
“It’s something I’ve had a lot of theories about, but none of them ever just fits. You used to wear furs in the fall, but now it’s so much colder, you don’t—you never wear them at all any more. Why don’t you?”
Her eyes fell for a moment, and she grew red. Then she looked up gaily. “Bibbs, if I tell you the answer will you promise not to ask any more questions?”
“Yes. Why did you stop wearing them?”
“Because I found I’d be warmer without them!” She caught his hand quickly in her own for an instant, laughed into his eyes, and ran into the house.
It is the consoling attribute of unused books that their decorative warmth will so often make even a ready-made library the actual “living-room” of a family to whom the shelved volumes are indeed sealed. Thus it was with Sheridan, who read nothing except newspapers, business letters, and figures; who looked upon books as he looked upon bric-a-brac or crocheting—when he was at home, and not abed or eating, he was in the library.
He stood in the many-colored light of the stained-glass window at the far end of the long room, when Roscoe and his wife came in, and he exhaled a solemnity. His deference to the Sabbath was manifest, as always, in the length of his coat and the closeness of his Saturday-night shave; and his expression, to match this religious pomp, was more than Sabbatical, but the most dismaying of his demonstrations was his keeping his hand in his sling.
Sibyl advanced to the middle of the room and halted there, not looking at him, but down at her muff, in which, it could be seen, her hands were nervously moving. Roscoe went to a chair in another part of the room. There was a deadly silence.
But Sibyl found a shaky voice, after an interval of gulping, though she was unable to lift her eyes, and the darkling lids continued to veil them. She spoke hurriedly, like an ungifted child reciting something committed to memory, but her sincerity was none the less evident for that.