“I can’t afford to be lazy much longer, can I? Married men never have a minute’s rest, you know.”
“We’re not married.”
“No; but we’re going to be, let me remind you. We are to—to announce it to-morrow night, are we not? It has come to that, you see.” He did not look very cheerful, nor did she.
“Yes, I suppose it’s imperative. That is why aunt is giving her reception,—just to tell everybody we’re engaged.”
“And then everybody will shake hands with us and say, ‘Congratulations,’ ‘How lovely,’ ‘So surprised,’ ‘Howdy do,’ and so forth, and we say ‘Thanks,’ ‘How good of you,’ and more so forth. It will be great!” Another silence and inspection of the fire, he taking an altered aim at the black chunk. “Say!” he exclaimed, “wouldn’t it do just as well if I didn’t put in an appearance to-morrow night? Your aunt can announce the thing, as agreed, and you can tell ’em that I have a sick uncle in Indianapolis, or have had my leg broken, or something like that. Now, there’s a good girl.”
“No,” she said. “We fell in love because we couldn’t help it, and this is the penalty—an announcement party.”
“I’ll never quite understand why you fell,” said he dubiously.
“I think we were both too young to know,” she responded. “It seems to me that we’ve been in love ever since we were babies.”
“And it never hurts a baby to fall, you know,” said he, with fine logic. “Of course it may cripple ’em permanently, but they don’t know how it happened.”
For some moments she caressed his brown hair in silence, the smile lingering on her lips after it had left her eyes. His eyes closed dreamily under the gentle touch of her fingers. “But, dear,” she said, “this is no joking matter. We have been engaged for nearly three months and not a soul knows of it. We’ll have to tell them how we managed to keep it a secret for so long, and why,—and all that. And then everybody will want to know who the bridesmaids are to be.”
“I believe I’d like to know that myself, as long as I’m to walk out of the church ahead of them—provided I don’t get lost.”
“Helen Grossman is to be the maid of honor. I believe I’ll ask Jean Robertson, Eloise Grant, Harriet Noble, Mayme McMurtrie, Ellen Boyland—”
“Are we to have no guests?”
“—and Effa Samuels. Won’t it be a pretty set of girls?”
“Couldn’t be prettier.”
“And now, who is to be your best man?”
“Well, I thought I’d have Tom Ditton,” a trifle confusedly.
“Tom Ditton! I thought you did not approve of him,” she cried. “You certainly did not when he came to see me so frequently.”
“Oh, he isn’t such a bad sort, after all. I’d just as soon have him as any one. Besides, he’s an expert at it. If it was left to me, I’d much rather sit behind the pulpit until it is all over. People won’t miss me while they’ve got you to look at.”