My eyes are dried again now, though they and my nose still keep a brave after-glow; and Roger and I are at one again. But, for my part, on this first day, I think it would have been pleasanter if we had never been at two. However, smiling peace is now again restored to us, and no one, to look at us, as we sit in my boudoir after breakfast, would think that we, or perhaps I should say I, had been so lately employed in chasing her away. As little would any one, looking at the blandness of Vick’s profile, as she slumbers on the window-seat in the sun, conjecture of her master-passion for the calves of strangers’ legs.
“So you see that I must go, Nancy,” says Roger, with a rather wistful appeal to my reason, of whose supremacy he is not, perhaps, quite so confident as he was when he got up this morning. “You understand, don’t you, dear?”
“Yes, I understand.”
I still speak in a subdued and snuffly voice, but the wrath has gone out of me.
“Well, you—would you mind,” he says, speaking rather hesitatingly, as not quite sure of the reception that his proposition may meet with— “would you mind coming with me as far as Zephine’s?”
“Do you mean come all the way, and go in with you, and stay while you are there?” cry I, with great animation, as a picture of the strict supervision which, by this course of conduct, I shall be enabled to exercise over Mrs. Zephine’s oscillades, poses, and little verbal tendernesses, flashes before my mind’s eye.
Roger looks down.
“I do not know about that” he says, slowly. “Perhaps she would not care to go into her husband’s liabilities before a—a str—before a third person!”
“Two is company and three is none, in fact,” say I, with a slight relapse into the disdainful and snorting mood.
He looks distressed, but attempts no argument or explanation.
“How far did you mean me to come, then?” say I, half ashamed of my humors, but still with an after-thought of pettishness in my voice. “Escort you to the hall-door, I suppose, and kick my heels among the laurestines until such time as all Mr. Huntley’s bills are paid?”
He turns away.
“It is of no consequence,” he says, with a slight shade of impatience, and a stronger shade of disappointment in his voice. “I see that you do not wish it, but what I meant was, that you might have walked with me as far as the gate, so that on this first day we might lose as little of each other’s society as possible.”
“And so I will!” cry I, impulsively, with a rush of tardy repentance. “I—I—meant to come all along. I was only—only—joking!”
But to both of us it seems but a sorry jest. We set forth, and walk side by side through the park. Both of us are rather silent. Yes, though we have eight months’ arrears of talk to make up, though it seemed to me before he came that in a whole long life there would scarce be time for all the things I had to say to him, yet, now that we are reunited, we are stalking dumbly along through the withered white grass, pallid from the winter storms. Certainly, we neither of us could say any thing so well worth hearing as what the lark, in his most loud and godly joy, is telling us from on high. Perhaps it is the knowledge of this that ties our tongues.