“Look at Barbara!” say I, with deep admiration, familiarly laying my hand on Sir Roger’s coat-sleeve, to make sure of engaging his attention, “that is always her way! Did you ever see any thing so cruelly shy as that poor little man is? See! he is wriggling all over like an eel! He came to call the other day, and while he was talking to mother I watched him. He tore a pair of quite new tea-green gloves into thin strips, like little thongs! He must find it rather expensive work, if he makes many morning calls, must he not?”
“I am sure that you and Barbara would get on,” continue I, loquaciously, leaning my head on my hand, and talking in that low, comfortable voice that our proximity warrants; “I cannot understand how it was that you did not make great friends that first night! I suppose that you are not poor and ugly and depressed enough for her to make much of you! Shall I make a sign to her to come over and talk to us?”
Sir Roger does not accept my proposal with the alacrity I had expected.
“Do not you think that she looks very comfortable where she is?” he asks, rather doubtfully.
I am a little disappointed.
“I am sure she would like you,” I say, with a dogmatic shake of the head. “I told her that you were—well, that I got on with you, and we always like the same people.”
“That must be awkward sometimes?”
“What do you mean? Oh! not in that way—” (with an unblushing heart-whole laugh). “Lucky for me that we do not.”
“Lucky for you?” (interrogatively).
“Why will you make me say things that sound mock-modest?” cry I, reddening a little this time. “You know perfectly well what I mean—it is not likely that any one would look at me when Barbara was by—you can have no notion,” continue I, speaking very fast to avoid contradiction, “how well she looks when she is dancing—never gets hot, or flushed, or mottled as so many people do.”
“And you? how do you look?”
“I grow purple,” I answer, laughing—“a rich imperial purple, all over. If you had once seen me, you would never forget me.”
“Go on: tell me something more about Barbara!”
He has settled himself with an air of extreme repose and enjoyment. We really are very comfortable.
“Well,” say I, nothing loath, for I have always dearly loved the sound of my own voice, “do you see that man on the hearth-rug?—do not look at him this very minute, or he will know that we are speaking of him. I cannot imagine why father has asked him here to-night—he wants to marry Barbara; he has never said it, but I know he does: the boys—we all, indeed—call him Toothless Jack! he is not old really, I suppose— not more than fifty, that is; but for Barbara!—”
I think that Sir Roger is beginning to find me rather tiresome: evidently he is not listening: he has even turned away his head.