“I am well aware of that,” I replied. “But it is a woman’s privilege to repel those attentions if distasteful to her. You seem disinclined to accord me that privilege.”
Having delivered this retort, I returned to the house, leaving him standing there looking the fool he was.
I do not believe in spurning the love of a blackfellow if he behaves in a manly way; but Frank Hawden was such a drivelling mawkish style of sweetheart that I had no patience with him.
Aunt Helen and Everard had vacated the drawing-room, so I plumped down on the piano-stool and dashed into Kowalski’s galop, from that into “Gaite de Coeur” until I made the piano dance and tremble like a thing possessed. My annoyance faded, and I slowly played that saddest of waltzes, “Weber’s Last”. I became aware of a presence in the room, and, facing about, confronted Everard Grey.
“How long have you been here?” I demanded sharply.
“Since you began to play. Where on earth did you learn to play? Your execution is splendid. Do sing ‘Three Fishers’, please.”
“Excuse me; I haven’t time now. Besides I am not competent to sing to you,” I said brusquely, and made my exit.
“Mr Hawden wants you, Sybylla,” called aunt Helen. “See what he wants and let him get away to his work, or your grannie will be vexed to see him loitering about all the morning.”
“Miss Sybylla,” he began, when we were left alone, I want to apologize to you. I had no right to plague you, but it all comes of the way I love you. A fellow gets jealous at the least little thing, you know.”
“Bore me with no more such trash,” I said, turning away in disgust.
“But, Miss Sybylla, what am I to do with it?”
“Do with what?”
“Love!” I retorted scornfully. “There is no such thing.”
“But there is, and I have found it.”
“Well, you stick to it—that’s
my advice to you. It will be a treasure.
If you send it to my father he will get it bottled up and put it in the
Goulburn museum. He has sent several things there already.”
“Don’t make such a game of a poor devil. You know I can’t do that.”
“Bag it up, then; put a big stone to make it sink, and pitch it in the river.”
“You’ll rue this,” he said savagely.
“I may or may not,” I sang over my shoulder as I departed.
One Grand Passion
I had not the opportunity of any more private interviews with Everard Grey till one morning near his departure, when we happened to be alone on the veranda.
“Well, Miss Sybylla,” he began, “when I arrived I thought you and I would have been great friends; but we have not progressed at all. How do you account for that?”
As he spoke he laid his slender shapely hand kindly upon my head. He was very handsome and winning, and moved in literary, musical, and artistic society—a man from my world, a world away.