Jim had risen slowly to his feet. There was no anger in his face—only a huge amusement. Rose-Marie, watching his expression, knew all at once that nothing she said would have the slightest effect upon him. His sensibilities were too well concealed, beneath a tough veneer of conceit, to be wounded. His soul seemed too well hidden to be reached.
“So that’s what you think, is it?” he asked, and his voice was almost silky, it was so smooth, “so that’s what you think! I haven’t any ’human affection in my make-up,’” he was imitating her angry voice, “I haven’t any ’human affection’!” he laughed suddenly, and bent with a swift movement until his face was on a level with her face. “Lot yer know about it!” he told her and his voice thickened, all at once, “lot yer know about it! I’m crazy about you, little kid—just crazy! Yer th’ only girl as I’ve ever wanted t’ tie up to, get that? How’d yer like t’ marry me?”
For one sickening moment Rose-Marie thought that she had misunderstood. And then she saw his face and knew that he had been deadly serious. Her hands fluttered up until they rested, like frightened birds, above her heart.
There was eagerness—and a hint of something else—in Jim’s voice as he repeated his question.
“Well,” he asked for the second time, “what d’ yer say about it—huh? How’d yer like ter marry me?”
Rose-Marie’s fascinated eyes were on his face. At the first she had hardly believed her ears—but her ears had evidently been functioning properly. Jim wanted to marry her—to marry her! It was a possibility that she had never dreamed of—a thought that she had never, for one moment, entertained. Jim had always seemed so utterly of another world—of another epoch, almost. He spoke a language that was far removed from her language, his mind worked differently—even his emotions were different from her emotions. He might have been living upon another planet—so distant he had always seemed from her. And yet he had asked her to marry him!
Like every other normal girl, Rose-Marie had thought ahead to the time when she would have a home and a husband. She had dreamed of the day when her knight would come riding—a visionary, idealized figure, always, but a noble one! She had pictured a hearth-fire, and a blue and white kitchen with aluminum pans and glass baking dishes. She had even wondered how tiny fingers would feel as they curled about her hand—if a wee head would be heavy upon her breast.
Of late her dreams, for some reason, had become a little less misty—a little more definite. The figure of her knight had been a trifle more clear cut—the armour of her imagination had given place to rough tweed suits and soft felt hats. And the children had looked at her, from out of the shadows, with wide, dark eyes—almost like real children. Her thoughts had shaped themselves about a figure that was not the romantic creation of girlhood—that was strong and willing and very tender. Dr. Blanchard—had he not been mistaken upon so many subjects—would have fitted nicely into the picture!