“Aren’t they pretty?” she said.
“They are very pretty,” said Blizzard, and he found it difficult to control his voice. “And it was very sweet of him to send them. Isn’t that the rest of the speech?”
“Of course,” said Barbara gayly.
She lifted the flowers until the lower half of her face was hidden.
“Mr. Allen, I suppose,” said the beggar.
“Why should you suppose that?” said Barbara, a little coldly. “There is no card.”
Blizzard felt his mistake. And Barbara felt that he felt it. She went into the next room for a vase of water, and returned presently with heightened color. She had heard Harry West’s slow grave voice explaining something to Bubbles. Her heart told her that West had sent the flowers, and she meant to get rid of Blizzard and find out. So, the vase of flowers in one hand, she held out the other to him, and said:
Blizzard was loath to go, but he felt that there was a certain finality in her voice, and he swung out of the studio, his heart gnawed with jealousy.
Through Bubbles, Harry West received the happy news that Miss Ferris wished to speak with him. But when he saw her with the vase of jonquils in her hand, and the empty box in which they had come at her feet, his stout heart failed him a little.
“Mr. West,” said Barbara, “some person is annoying me.”
“I am continually receiving flowers without card or comment.”
“Is it the flowers which annoy you or the lack of comment?”
“I love the flowers, but anything in the shape of anonymity is unfair, and I resent it.”
“I can think of cases,” said West, “in which a man might properly send flowers without disclosing his identity—just as I may pass a fine statue and praise it, without telling the statue who I am.” He smiled.
“Flowers don’t resemble statues in the least, and your comparison is unnaturally far-fetched. Another thing, and this annoys me even more: my secretive friend sends flowers from the cheapest florist he can find. I argue from this that he is poor, and cannot afford to send me flowers at all.”
“Perhaps his home and business in the city are too far from the Fifth Avenue shops.”
“You are not saying gallant things, Mr. West. I—an unprotected young woman—tell you that I am being annoyed by a strange man. Instead of flying into a chivalrous rage and threatening to wring his neck when you catch him, you stand up for him. Very well. I shall set Bubbles to find out who the man is, and take my own steps in the matter.”
Her expression was grave and unruffled, though a certain look of amusement might have been detected in her eyes, by a youth less embarrassed than Mr. West was.
“Don’t do that,” he said; “Bubbles could never find out. You wish to know who is sending you flowers?”