“It was a vulgar book!” persisted Addie, sticking to the point.
“Fiddlesticks! It was an artistic book—bungled.”
“Oh, well!” said Addie, as the tears welled from her eyes, “if you’re so fond of unconventional girls, you’d better marry them.”
“I would,” said Sidney, “but for the absurd restriction against polygamy.”
Addie got up with an indignant jerk. “You think I’m a child to be played with!”
She turned her back upon him. His face changed instantly; he stood still a moment, admiring the magnificent pose. Then he recaptured her reluctant hand.
“Don’t be jealous already, Addie,” he said. “It’s a healthy sign of affection, is a storm-cloud, but don’t you think it’s just a wee, tiny, weeny bit too previous?”
A pressure of the hand accompanied each of the little adjectives. Addie sat down again, feeling deliriously happy. She seemed to be lapped in a great drowsy ecstasy of bliss.
The sunset was fading into sombre grays before Sidney broke the silence; then his train of thought revealed itself.
“If you’re so down on Esther, I wonder how you can put up with me! How is it?”
Addie did not hear the question.
“You think I’m a very wicked, blasphemous boy,” he insisted. “Isn’t that the thought deep down in your heart of hearts?”
“I’m sure tea must be over long ago,” said Addie anxiously.
“Answer me,” said Sidney inexorably.
“Don’t bother. Aren’t they cooeying for us?”
“I do believe that was a water-rat. Look! the water is still eddying.”
“I’m a very wicked, blasphemous boy. Isn’t that the thought deep down in your heart of hearts?”
“You are there, too,” she breathed at last, and then Sidney forgot her beauty for an instant, and lost himself in unaccustomed humility. It seemed passing wonderful to him—that he should be the deity of such a spotless shrine. Could any man deserve the trust of this celestial soul?
Suddenly the thought that he had not told her about Miss Hannibal after all, gave him a chilling shock. But he rallied quickly. Was it really worth while to trouble the clear depths of her spirit with his turbid past? No; wiser to inhale the odor of the rose at her bosom, sweeter to surrender himself to the intoxicating perfume of her personality, to the magic of a moment that must fade like the sunset, already grown gray.
So Addie never knew.
FROM SOUL TO SOUL.
On the Friday that Percy Saville returned to town, Raphael, in a state of mental prostration modified by tobacco, was sitting in the editorial chair. He was engaged in his pleasing weekly occupation of discovering, from a comparison with the great rival organ, the deficiencies of The Flag of Judah in the matter of news, his organization for the collection of which partook of the happy-go-lucky character of little Sampson. Fortunately, to-day there were no flagrant omissions, no palpable shortcomings such as had once and again thrown the office of the Flag into mourning when communal pillars were found dead in the opposition paper.