Jarvis’s gift to Bambi was a dull gold chain, hung with tassels of baroque pearls, an exquisite feminine bauble.
“Oh, Jarvis, how charming! It’s like a lovely lady’s happy tears!” she exclaimed.
He blushed happily.
“I thought it looked like you.”
“A thousand thanks! Fasten the clasp for me.”
He fumbled it awkwardly, but with final success. She turned for inspection, her eyes avid for praise. He nodded.
“It is where it belongs,” he said.
The day passed happily. Ardelia’s dinner was a Christmas poem. When the Professor complimented her on the success of everything, she replied:
“Yassuh, dis heah day been all right. But I hopes befo’ nex’ Chris’mus we all gwine to have some chilluns to make dis a sho’ nuff pahty.”
Bambi’s face was scarlet, but she faced it out.
“Oh, not children, Ardelia—singular, you mean, I hope.”
“No, I don’t mean sing’lar. We don’ want no singular chilluns. I mean jes’ plain chilluns.”
“The holiday seems to be peculiarly the children’s day,” said the Professor, unaware of the situation, and so saved it!
Thus it was that Jarvis was welcomed into the family circle again, and this time he became an integral part as he had never been before. The day after Christmas he came to Bambi with her story.
“You told me you had read this book, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I’ve read it.”
“What do you think of it?” he asked her, curiously.
“I adore it!” she replied.
He sat down beside her, gravely.
“It’s a strange thing, but the book grows on you. When I first read it, I thought it was a clever little trifle. But as I work with it, I have come to see that it is remarkable in its human quality. You feel the charm of the author all through it.”
“Do you?” eagerly.
“I don’t know. I loved the girl. She seemed very true to me.”
“I’ve never known any girls except you, and I don’t know you very well, but there are spots where you and the other Francesca are strikingly alike. I suppose it is not you, but feminine. I mix them up.”
“If we are to make a play of it, I am glad we both love it.”
“I find myself intensely interested in the mysterious woman who wrote it. To me there is no hint in the story of the infelicity Mr. Frohman hinted at. I would like to know her.”
“Don’t you expect to see her when the play is finished?”
“She says she wishes me not to know her.”
“But she will have to come to rehearsals?”
“I must ask her about that. Maybe she will come, then.”
“You write to her?”
“Oh, yes. I have to keep her in touch with my progress.”
“I thought you told her to keep out.”
“I did. But she has been so agreeable about it that I decided to keep her posted as I went along.”