“He looks fine, doesn’t he? I never realized before how handsome he is,” said the Professor.
“He’s thrilling!” replied Bambi.
Her father inspected her thoughtfully.
“What a talent you have for hitting people off! That is just it: he thrills you with a feeling of youth and power.”
“Plus some new and softer quality,” added Bambi, as if to herself.
The powwow in the kitchen could be heard all over the house, Ardelia welcoming home the Prodigal Son. It was only after long argument he escaped the fatted calf. She could not conceive of him except as hungry after many months in the heathen city.
When he came back into the library he swept with his eyes its caressing harmony of colour, tone, and atmosphere. He had never noticed it before. The Professor’s beautiful profile, like a fine steel engraving, thrown into high relief by the lamplight, seemed a part of it. The vibrant little figure on the hearth rug, in a flame-coloured gown, was the high note that gave it all climax. His mind swept the gamut of dirty hall bedrooms, back to this, and the sigh with which he sank into the big couch caught Bambi’s amused attention.
“It was satisfaction,” he assured her. “For the first time in my life, I’ve got the home feeling.”
She nodded understandingly. Her mind, too, swept up those dirty stairs, peeped into the cell, and flew back, singing.
The Professor moved over beside Jarvis, and the wander tales began. Bambi fluttered about like a scarlet tanager, tantalizing Jarvis with a desire to catch her in his hand and hold her still.
At eleven the Professor said good night. Immediately Bambi led the talk to their proposed work, and held it there, firmly, until midnight chimed. Jarvis told her of the sale of the “Street Songs” to Strong’s magazine, and announced that one hundred dollars of it was to be set down in the Black Maria account. She laughed and congratulated him.
Finally she rose.
“Your rooms are always ready for you, so I do not need to go up and see about them. A Merry Christmas, Jarvis Jocelyn.”
He laid his hands on her shoulders and looked deep into her eyes. He thought he felt her tremble under his touch, but her glance was as frank and emotionless as a boy’s.
“A Merry Christmas to you, Miss Mite,” he answered, with a sigh. She laughed, unexpectedly patted his cheek with her hand, and ran upstairs.
Christmas day in the little house was a real celebration. It was the first one in the Jocelyns’ married life, and the entire household entered into the spirit of Yuletide with enthusiasm. At Bambi’s suggestion, they hid the presents all over the house. The subsequent search and discovery were carried on with much laughter and shouting. Ardelia’s delight over her gifts was vocal and extreme. The Professor continually forgot which presents were his, and collected every one else’s into his pile, from which the owner laughingly rescued them. A pair of silk stockings for Bambi which he absent-mindedly appropriated caused much mirth.