Then she began to plan how she would tell it to Jarvis, the story of her adventuring into the new field, her swift success, and now this last laurel leaf. Suddenly a new idea lifted its head. Suppose Jarvis refused to come into his own, under her mantle, as it were? He would be proud and glad for her, of course, but maybe he would resent taking his first chance from her hands. With knitted brow she pondered that for some time. The more she thought of it, the more convinced she became that even though he accepted it, and showed gratitude, deep down in his heart would be the feeling that he would be only contributing to her success, that was in no way his own. Long she sat, and finally she laughed, nodded her head, and clapped her hands.
“Oh, yes, that’s the way!” said she.
The Professor came in upon her at this point.
“Are you saying an incantation, my dear?”
“No, offering thanks to the gods.”
“For the most unconscionable luck.”
“In what form, may I ask?”
“Look at me!” she ordered.
He fixed his faded eyes on her closely.
“I see you.”
“See how pretty I am?”
“You’re not bad-looking.”
“Bad-looking? I’m extremely near to being a beauty. Look at the father I have—distinguished, delightful!”
“Oh, my dear!”
“Look at the husband the gods gave me!”
“Yes, your long-distance husband.”
“Look at Ardelia! Who ever heard of such a cook? Consider my brains.”
“There, I grant you.”
“Besides that, I am the sole possessor of a secret which is too perfectly delicious to be true.”
“Do you intend to tell this secret to me?”
“Yes, as soon as it is ripe.”
She caught his hands and whirled him about.
“Oh, Professor, Professor, you ought to be very glad that you are related to me!”
“Bambina, one moment. I dislike being jerked around like a live jumping-jack.”
“It’s evident I didn’t get my dancing talents from you, old centipede. Sit down, and I’ll dance a joy dance.”
She pushed him on the couch, and began a wild, fantastic dance on the hearth rug before him, the firelight flashing through the thin, gray draperies. Even the Professor breathed a little faster as the lithe figure swayed and bent and curved into wonderful lines, which melted ever into new ones. It was young, elemental joy, every step of it; sexless, no Bacchante dance, but rather a paeon of ecstasy, such as a dryad might have danced in the woods. At the climax she stood poised, her arms lifted in exultation. Then she dropped beside him.
“My child!” he exclaimed. “That was most extraordinary! Where did you learn it?”
“Ages back, when I lived in a tree.”
“It must be a happy secret to make you dance like that.”
“Oh,” said she, snuggling up to him, putting her head on his shoulder, “it is the gayest, pleasantest, hopefulest secret a girl ever had. If I don’t hold my hands over my mouth, it will break out of me.”