“Take them, you!” as vehemently whispered Anna. “You must take them! You must, you shall!”
Flora had half started to fly, but while she hung upon Anna’s words she let her palms slip under the bestowing hand and the treasure slide into her own fingers.
“Too late, too late! And oh, I can never, never use them any’ow!” She sprang noiselessly aside. To a maid who came down the hall Anna quietly motioned to show the newcomer into an opposite room, but Flora saw that the sign was misinterpreted: “She didn’t understan’! Anna, she’s going to bring him!” Before the words were done the speaker’s lithe form was gliding down the room toward the door by which the other ladies had gone out, but as she reached it she turned with a hand-toss as of some despairing afterthought and flitted back.
Out in the hall the front door opened and closed and a sabre clinked: “Is Miss Callender at home?”
Before the question was half put its unsuspected hearers had recovered a faultless poise. Beside a table that bore her roses she whom the inquirer sought stood retouching them and reflecting a faint excess of their tint, while Flora, in a grave joy of the theatrical, equal to her companion’s distress of it, floated from view behind the silken screen.
THE FIGHT FOR THE STANDARD
His red kepi in hand and with all the stalwart briskness of the flag-presentation’s day and hour Hilary Kincaid stepped into the room and halted, as large-eyed as on that earlier occasion, and even more startled, before the small figure of Anna.
Yet not the very same Hilary Kincaid. So said her heart the instant glance met glance. The tarnish of hard use was on all his trappings; like sea-marshes on fire he was reddened and browned; about him hung palpably the sunshine and air of sands and waves, and all the stress and swing of wide designs; and on brow and cheek were new lines that looked old. From every point of his aspect the truth rushed home to her livelier, deadlier than ever hitherto, that there was War, and that he and she were already parts of it.
But the change was more than this. A second and quieter look, the hand-grasp lingering, showed something deeper; something that wove and tangled itself through and about all designs, toils, and vigils, and suddenly looking out of his eyes like a starved captive, cried, “you—you—” and prophesied that, whether they would or not, this war was to be his and hers together. A responding thrill must have run from her fingers into his and belied the unaccountable restraint of her welcome, for a joy shone from him which it took her ignoring smile and her hand’s withdrawal to quench.
They sat down. His earlier boyishness came again somewhat, but only somewhat, as he dropped his elbows to his knees, looking now into his cap and now into her face. A glance behind her had assured Anna that there was no shadow on the screen, behind which sat Flora on the carpet, at graceful ease listening while she eagerly appraised the jewels in her hands and lap.