[Illustration: And the next instant she was in his arms]
“And all you had to do was to say yes to him?”
“That would have been much,” absently replied the reader, turning a page.
“’Twould have been little!—to make him rich!—and us also!”
“Not us,” said the abstracted girl; “me.” Something in the missive caused her brows to knit.
“And still you trifle!” nagged the grandam, “while I starve! And while at any instant may arrive—humph—that other fool.”
Even this did not draw the reader’s glance. “No.” she responded. “He cannot. Irby and Charlie lied to us. He is already here.” She was re-reading.
The grandmother stared, tossed a hand and moved across the floor. As she passed near the girl’s slippered foot it darted out, tripped her and would have sent her headlong, but she caught by the lamp table. Flora smiled with a strange whiteness round the lips. Madame righted the shaken lamp, quietly asking, “Did you do that—h-m-m—for hate of the lady, or, eh, the ladies’ man?”
“The latter,” said the reabsorbed girl.
“Strange,” sighed the other, “how we can have—at the same time—for the same one—both feelings.”
But Flora’s ears were closed. “Well,” she audibly mused, “he’ll get a recall.”
“Even if it must be forged?” twittered the dame.
ANNA’S OLD JEWELS
A Reporters’ heaven, the Bazaar. So on its opening night Hilary named it to Flora.
“A faerye realm,” the scribes themselves itemed it; “myriad lights—broad staircases gracef’y asc’d’g—ravish’g perfumes—met our gaze—garlandries of laurel and magn’a—prom’d’g from room to room—met our gaze—directed by masters of cerem’y in Conf’te G’d’s unif’m—here turn’g to the right—fair women and brave men—carried thither by the dense throng—music with its volup’s swell—met our gaze—again descend’g—arriv’g at din’g-hall—new scene of ench’t bursts—refr’t tables—enarched with ev’gr’s and decked with labarums and burgees—thence your way lies through—costly volumes and shimm’g bijoutries—met our gaze!”
It was Kincaid who saw their laborious office in this flippant light, and so presented it to Anna that she laughed till she wept; laughing was now so easy. But when they saw one of the pencillers writing awkwardly with his left hand, aided by half a right arm in a pinned-up sleeve, her mirth had a sudden check. Yet presently it became a proud thrill, as the poor boy glowed with delight while Hilary stood and talked with him of the fearful Virginia day on which that ruin had befallen him at Hilary’s own side in Kincaid’s Battery, and then brought him to converse with her. This incident may account for the fervor with which a next morning’s report extolled the wonders of the “fair chairman’s” administrative skill and the matchless and most opportune executive supervision of Captain Hilary Kincaid. Flora read it with interest.