She had resumed her seat and the critical examination of her coffee spoon. The men were silent, respecting the moment of tender contemplation of her fondness for Ann. “Ann is a dear girl,” she volunteered at last.
“Having had it impressed upon me that I am such a duffer,” Captain Jones began, a little haughtily, “I naturally hesitate to make many inquiries, but I cannot quite get it through my stupid and impossible head just why ‘Ann’ is hidden away in this mysterious manner.”
“There’s nothing mysterious about it,” said Kate sharply. “Ann was tired.”
“And why, if I may venture still another blundering question, was poor Nora held responsible for a cough she never coughed?”
Once more Miss Jones surveyed the torn ruffle at the bottom of her skirt. She seemed to be giving it serious consideration.
“I am glad that I do not live in the Mississippi Valley,” was the remark she finally raised herself to make.
“One of Kate’s greatest charms,” Wayne informed Prescott, “is the emphasis and assurance with which she unfailingly produces the irrelevant. Now when you ask her if she likes Benedictine, don’t be at all surprised to have her dreamily murmur: ’But why should oranges always be yellow?’”
“I am glad that I do not live in the Mississippi Valley,” Kate went on, superiorly ignoring the observation, “because the joy of living seems to be at a very low ebb out here.”
“Honestly now, do you get that?” he demanded of his friend.
“Ann and I had planned a beautiful surprise for you, Wayne.”
“Thanks,” said Wayne drily.
“To-night Ann was tired. She did not wish to come down to dinner. Of course, I might have told you: ‘Ann is here.’ To the orderly, West-Pointed mind, the well oiled, gun-constructing mind, I presume that would present itself as the thing to do. But Ann and I have a sense of the joy of living, a delight in the festive, in the—the bubbling wine of youth, you know. So we said, ‘How beautiful to surprise dear Wayne.’ In the morning Ann, refreshed by the long night’s sleep, was to go out and gather roses. Wayne—”
“The roses don’t bloom until next month,” brutally interrupted Wayne.
“Of course, you would think of that! As we had planned it, Wayne, looking from his window was to see the beautiful girl—she is a beautiful girl—gathering dew-laden roses in the garden. Perhaps Captain Prescott, chancing at that very moment to look from his window, would see her too. It was to be a beautiful, a never-to-be-forgotten moment for you both.”
“We humbly apologize,” laughed Prescott.
“Hum!” grunted dear Wayne.