After a pause, edging a little nearer to him, and, regardless of the hay-carts in the market below—laying my fair-haired head on his shoulder:
“What could have made you marry such a shrew? I believe it was the purest philanthropy.”
“That was it!” he answers, fondly. “To save any other poor fellow from such an infliction!”
“Quite unnecessary!” rejoin I, shaking my head. “If you had not married me, it is very certain that nobody else would!”
Another day has come. It is hot afternoon. Sir Roger is reading the Times in our balcony, and I am strolling along the dazzling streets by myself. What can equal the white glare of a foreign town? I am strolling along by myself under a big sun-shade. My progress is slow, as my nose has a disposition to flatten itself against every shop-window—saving, perhaps, the cigar ones. A grave problem is engaging my mind. What present am I to take to father? It is this question which moiders our young brains as often as his birthday recurs. My thoughts are trailing back over all our former gifts to him. This year we gave him a spectacle-case (he is short-sighted); last year a pocket-book; the year before, an inkstand. What is there left to give him? A cigar-case? He does not smoke. A hunting-flask? He has half a dozen. A Norwegian stove? He does not approve of them, but says that men ought to be satisfied with sandwiches out shooting. A telescope? He never lifts his eyes high enough above our delinquencies to look at the stars. I cannot arrive at any approximation to a decision. As I issue from a china-shop, with a brown-paper parcel under my arm, and out on the hot and glaring flags, I see a young man come stepping down the street, with a long, loose, British stride; a young man, pale and comely, and a good deal worn out by the flies, that have also eaten most of me.
“How are you?” cry I, hastily shifting my umbrella to the other hand, so as to have my right one ready to offer him. “Are not these streets blinding? I am blinking like an owl in daylight!—so you never came to see us, after all!”
“It was so likely that I should!” he answers, with his nose in the air.
“Very likely!” reply I, taking him literally; “so likely that I have been expecting you every day.”
“You seem to forget—confound these flies!”—(as a stout blue-bottle blunders into one flashing eye)—“you seem to forget that you told me, in so many words, to stay away.”
“You were huffy, then!” say I, with an accent of incredulity. “Sir Roger was right! he said you were, and I could not believe it; he was quite sorry for you. He said I had snubbed you so.”
“Snubbed me!” reddening self-consciously, and drawing himself up as if he did not much relish the application of the word. “I do not often give any one the chance of doing that twice!”