“Oh, what’s the use to be extravagant?” murmured Elnora.
WHEREIN PHILIP AMMON KNEELS TO ELNORA, AND STRANGERS COME TO THE LIMBERLOST
The month which followed was a reproduction of the previous June. There were long moth hunts, days of specimen gathering, wonderful hours with great books, big dinners all of them helped to prepare, and perfect nights filled with music. Everything was as it had been, with the difference that Philip was now an avowed suitor. He missed no opportunity to advance himself in Elnora’s graces. At the end of the month he was no nearer any sort of understanding with her than he had been at the beginning. He revelled in the privilege of loving her, but he got no response. Elnora believed in his love, yet she hesitated to accept him, because she could not forget Edith Carr.
One afternoon early in July, Philip came across the fields, through the Comstock woods, and entered the garden. He inquired for Elnora at the back door and was told that she was reading under the willow. He went around the west end of the cabin to her. She sat on a rustic bench they had made and placed beneath a drooping branch. He had not seen her before in the dress she was wearing. It was clinging mull of pale green, trimmed with narrow ruffles and touched with knots of black velvet; a simple dress, but vastly becoming. Every tint of her bright hair, her luminous eyes, her red lips, and her rose-flushed face, neck, and arms grew a little more vivid with the delicate green setting.
He stopped short. She was so near, so temptingly sweet, he lost control. He went to her with a half-smothered cry after that first long look, dropped on one knee beside her and reached an arm behind her to the bench back, so that he was very near. He caught her hands.
“Elnora!” he cried tensely, “end it now! Say this strain is over. I pledge you that you will be happy. You don’t know! If you only would say the word, you would awake to new life and great joy! Won’t you promise me now, Elnora?”
The girl sat staring into the west woods, while strong in her eyes was her father’s look of seeing something invisible to others. Philip’s arm slipped from the bench around her. His fingers closed firmly over hers. “Elnora,” he pleaded, “you know me well enough. You have had time in plenty. End it now. Say you will be mine!” He gathered her closer, pressing his face against hers, his breath on her cheek. “Can’t you quite promise yet, my girl of the Limberlost?”
Elnora shook her head. Instantly he released her.
“Forgive me,” he begged. “I had no intention of thrusting myself upon you, but, Elnora, you are the veriest Queen of Love this afternoon. From the tips of your toes to your shining crown, I worship you. I want no woman save you. You are so wonderful this afternoon, I couldn’t help urging. Forgive me. Perhaps it was something that came this morning for you. I wrote Polly to send it. May we try if it fits? Will you tell me if you like it?”