“I love you,” she said, in a whisper.
Livingstone caught her in his arms.
“Let’s go and have a game of blind-man’s buff. I am beginning to feel young again,” he said, and linking his arm in Clark’s, he dragged him back to the others, where, in a few minutes they were all of one age, and a very riot of fun seemed to have broken loose.
Matters had just reached this delightful point, and Livingstone was down on his hands and knees trying with futile dexterity to avoid the clutch of a pair of little arms that apparently were pursuing him with infallible instinct into an inextricable trap, when he became conscious of a presence he had not observed before. Some one not there before was standing in the doorway.
Livingstone sprang to his feet and faced Mrs. Wright.
He felt very red and foolish as he caught her eyes and found them smiling at him. The idea of being discovered in so ridiculous a situation and posture by the most fashionable and elegant woman of his acquaintance! But Mrs. Wright waved to him to go on with his game and the next moment the little arms had clutched him, and, tearing off her bandage, Kitty, with dancing eyes, declared him “caught.”
“Well, this is my final triumph over Will,” exclaimed Mrs. Wright, advancing into the room, as Livingstone, drawing the little girl along with him, approached her. And she began to tell Livingstone how they had particularly wanted him to dine with them that day as an old friend of his had promised to come to them, but they had supposed, of course, that he had been overrun with invitations for the day and, as they had not seen him of late, thought that he had probably gone out of town, until her husband saw him at the club the night before where he had gone to find some poor lone bachelor who might have no other invitation.
“You know Will has always been very fond of you,” she said; “and he says you have been working too hard of late and have not been looking well. When I didn’t get my usual contributions from you this Christmas I didn’t know what to make of it, but I think that on my round this morning I have found out the reason?”
Livingstone knew the reason, but he did not tell her. The knowing smile that lit her face, however, mystified him and he flushed a little under her searching eyes.
“Will was sure he saw you in the club last night,” she persisted, “and he tried to catch you, but you ran off; and now I have come for you and will take no refusal.”
Livingstone expressed his regret that he could not come. A wave of his hand towards the curly heads and beaming faces clustered before them and towards the long table gleaming in the dining-room beyond explained his reason.
“I am having a Christmas dinner myself,” he said.
“Then you will come in after they go?” insisted Mrs. Wright, and as Livingstone knew they were going early he assented.