“Oh, I daresay,” said Mrs. Goddard indifferently. “We shall soon be there, now. I can hear them on the ice.”
“Too soon,” said John with regret.
“I thought you liked skating so much.”
“I like walking with you much better,” he replied, and he glanced at her face to see if his speech produced any sign of sympathy.
“You have walked with me; now you can skate with Nellie,” suggested Mrs. Goddard.
“You talk as though I were a child,” said John, suddenly losing his temper in a very unaccountable way.
“Because I said you might skate with Nellie? Really, I don’t see why. Mr. Juxon is not a child, and he has been skating with her all the morning.”
“That is different,” retorted John growing very red.
“Yes—Nellie is much nearer to your age than to Mr. Juxon’s,” answered Mrs. Goddard, with a calmness which made John desperate.
“Really, Mrs. Goddard,” he said stiffly, “I cannot see what that has to do with it.”
“’The atrocious crime of being a young man, which the lady so much older than myself has charged—’ How does the quotation end, Mr. Short?”
“’Has, with such spirit and decency, charged upon me, I shall neither attempt to palliate nor deny,’” said John savagely. “Quite so, Mrs. Goddard. I shall not attempt to palliate it, nor will I venture to deny it.”
“Then why in the world are you so angry with me?” she asked, suddenly turning her violet eyes upon him. “I was only laughing, you know.”
“Only laughing!” repeated John. “It is more pleasant to laugh than to be laughed at.”
“Yes—would not you allow me the pleasure then, just for once?”
“Certainly, if you desire it. You are so extremely merry—”
“Come, Mr. Short, we must not seem to have been quarrelling when we reach the pond. It would be too ridiculous.”
“Everything seems to strike you in a humorous light to-day,” answered John, beginning to be pacified by her tone.
“Do you know, you are much more interesting when you are angry,” said Mrs. Goddard.
“And you only made me angry in order to see whether I was interesting?”
“Perhaps—but then, I could not help it in the least.”
“I trust you are thoroughly satisfied upon the point, Mrs. Goddard? If there is anything more that I can do to facilitate your researches in psychology—”
“You would help me? Even to the extent of being angry again?” She smiled so pleasantly and frankly that John’s wrath vanished.
“It is impossible to be angry with you. I am very sorry if I seemed to be,” he answered. “A man who has the good fortune to be thrown into your society is a fool to waste his time in being disagreeable.”
“I agree with the conclusion, at all events—that is, it is much better to be agreeable. Is it not? Let us be friends.”
“Oh, by all means,” said John.