“Johnson’s the publisher,” said V.V., coming to a halt in front of her. And then, taking the sheets of note-paper unconsciously from her unresisting hands, he added, looking down:
“But—how’d you mean just now ... that I—I’ve accomplished so—so much?”
By now Cally could smile, in quite a natural-seeming way; and this she did, full under the prophetic gaze, revealing shining white teeth and glimpses of a rose-lined mouth. And if “he was a Hun, she had always been the loveliest of them, God wot....
“I’m beginning to believe,” said she, “that you’re not such a very strange man, after....”
So she ended; her gaze shifting, the smile dying on her lip. For the door of the library had opened authoritatively, and that difficulty which had embarrassed her all through the afternoon suddenly confronted her upon the threshold.
Mr. Heth, of the Works, en route to his study, was briefly surprised by the little tableau he had stumbled upon. But seeing young men about the house at all hours wan no nine days’ wonder for him; and he came on in with quite his usual air.
“Ah, Cally! Didn’t know anybody was in here,” said papa; and he glanced from her, with amiable expectancy, toward the stranger. “What’s this confabulation about?”
Cally felt herself turning white. She steadied herself with one hand on the writing-leaf of the desk.
“We were talking about the new Works,” said she.... “Papa—I want to introduce a good friend of mine—Dr. Vivian.”
“Oh, Mr. Heth!... I’m so glad to know you, sir.”
Thus the fearless young voice at her side. But Cally was gazing, transfixed, at her father, on whose face the friendly greeting air was giving place to astonished displeasure, not untouched with indignation. He had stopped short in the middle of the floor, and the hand he had been automatically putting out fell dead at his side.
“Oh!—Ah!—Dr. Vivian!” said Mr. Heth, with the stiffest inclination. And then, his look going from one to the other of the two young people, he added, as if involuntarily: “Vivian?... Ah! I’d—have expected a different-looking man!”
The pause then, the suspense of all action from the world, was infinitesimal. But it seemed long to Cally. And she thought she could never forgive her father if he turned away, leaving this slight upon her friend.
“Papa,” she began, unsteadily, “I don’t think....”
But once again her sentence hung unended. V.V., advancing, came then into her line of vision; and Cally saw that he had no thought for the cover of her skirt. Her father’s forbidding deportment had not escaped the young man; there were both a diffidence and a dignity in his bearing. And yet she saw that his face wore like a flower that guileless and confiding look he had, the look of a man who cannot doubt that, in their hearts, all mean as kindly as he himself. He moved upon her silent father as if singing aloud an immortal faith in the goodness of his fellows: Though he slay me, yet will I trust him....