“Just what makes you think you love this boy—youth, flattery, desire to love. He was magnificently handsome, your father. I saw him admired by other men, apparently a master; I was too young to judge, my dear. You shan’t be allowed to make that mistake; you shall have time to consider.”
“I don’t want time,” she said.
“I did not know I did.”
“I don’t think I feel about love as you do,” said the girl, slowly.
“Every woman does.”
Mathilde shook her head.
“It’s just Pete as he is that I love. I don’t care which of us leads.”
“But you will.”
The girl had not yet reached a point where she could describe the very essence of her passion; she had to let this go. After a moment she said:
“I see now why you chose Mr. Farron.”
“You mean you have never seen before?”
“Not so clearly.”
Mrs. Farron bit her lips. To have missed understanding this seemed a sufficient proof of immaturity. She rose.
“Well, my darling,” she said in a tone of extreme reasonableness, “we shall decide nothing to-night. I know nothing against Mr. Wayne. He may be just the right person. We must see more of him. Do you know anything about his family?”
Mathilde shook her head. “He lives alone with his mother. His father is dead. She’s very good and interested in drunkards.”
“In drunkards?” Mrs. Farron just shut her eyes a second.
“She has a mission that reforms them.”
“Is that his profession, too?”
“Oh, no. He’s in Wall Street—quite a good firm. O Mama, don’t sigh like that! We know we can’t be married at once. We are reasonable. You think not, because this has all happened so suddenly; but great things do happen suddenly. We love each other. That’s all I wanted to tell you.”
“Love!” Adelaide looked at the little person before her, tried to recall the fading image of the young man, and then thought of the dominating figure in her own life. “My dear, you have no idea what love is.”
She took no notice of the queer, steady look the girl gave her in return. She went down-stairs. She had been gone more than an hour, and she knew that Vincent would have been long since asleep. He had, and prided himself on having, a great capacity for sleep. She tiptoed past his door, stole into her own room, and then, glancing in the direction of his, was startled to see that a light was burning. She went in; he was reading, and once again, as his eyes turned toward her, she thought she saw the same tragic appeal that she had felt that afternoon in his kiss. Trembling, she threw herself down beside him, clasping him to her.
“O Vincent! oh, my dear!” she whispered, and began to cry. He did not ask her why she was crying; she wished that he would; his silence admitted that he knew of some adequate reason.