But Desire was suddenly sharp and fractious. If it had not touched some deep, live place in her, she would not have minded so much. It was partly, too, the coming toward home. She had got away out of the pure, clear spaces where such things seemed to be fit and unstrained, into the edge of her earth atmosphere again, where, falling, they took fire. Presently she would be in that ridiculous pink room, and Glossy Megilp would be chattering about “those lovely purple poppies with the black grass,” that she had been lamenting all the morning she had not bought for her chip hat, instead of the pomegranate flowers. And Agatha would be on the bed, in her cashmere sack, reading Miss Braddon.
“It would sound nice to tell them she was going down to the Mission School to give out crumbs!”
Besides, I suppose that persons of a certain temperament never utter a more ungracious “No,” than when they are longing all the time to say “Yes.”
So she turned round on the lower step to Kenneth, when he had asked that grave, sweet question of the Lord’s, and said perversely,—
“I thought you did not believe in any brokering kind of business. It’s all there,—for everybody. Why should I set up to fetch and carry?”
She did not look in his face as she said it; she was not audacious enough to do that; she poked with the stick of her sunshade between the uneven bricks of the sidewalk, keeping her eyes down, as if she watched for some truth she expected to pry up. But she only wedged the stick in so that she could not get it out; and Kenneth Kincaid making her absolutely no answer at all, she had to stand there, growing red and ashamed, held fast by her own silly trap.
“Take care; you will break it,” said Kenneth, quietly, as she gave it a twist and a wrench. And he put out his hand, and took it from hers, and drew gently upward in the line in which she had thrust it in.
“You were bearing off at an angle. It wanted a straight pull.”
“I never pull straight at anything. I always get into a crook, somehow. You didn’t answer me, Mr. Kincaid. I didn’t mean to be rude—or wicked. I didn’t mean—”
“What you said. I know that; and it’s no use to answer what people don’t mean. That makes the crookedest crook of all.”
“But I think I did mean it partly; only not contrarimindedly. I do mean that I have no business—yet awhile. It would only be—Migging at gospel!”
And with this remarkable application of her favorite illustrative expression, she made a friendly but abrupt motion of leave-taking, and went into the house.
Up into her own room, in the third story, where the old furniture was, and no “fadging,”—and sat down, bonnet, gloves, sunshade, and all, in her little cane rocking-chair by the window.
Helena was down in the pink room, listening with charmed ears to the grown up young-ladyisms of her elder sisters and Glossy Megilp.