“I will,” she said; “and I am happy.”
“And, please God, you shall always be so. One would think it was a very dangerous thing to marry me!”
“I will brave the danger.”
“There is none. I have found my goddess.”
The door opened suddenly, and Bob Territon entered at the very moment when Eugene was sealing his vow of homage. Bob was pleased to be playful. Holding his hands before his face, he turned and pretended to fly.
“Come in, old man,” cried Eugene, “and congratulate me!”
“Oh! you have fixed it, have you?”
“We have. Don’t you think we shall do very well together?”
Bob stood regarding them, his hands in his pockets.
“Yes,” he said at length, “I think you will. There’s a pair of you.”
And he could never be persuaded to explain this utterance. But it is to be feared that the thought underlying it was one not over-complimentary to the happy lovers. And Bob knew them both very well.
An End and a Beginning.
When Sir Roderick Ayre returned to England, he had to undergo much questioning concerning his dealings with Stafford. It had somehow become known throughout the little group of people interested in Stafford’s abortive love-affair that he and Ayre had held conference together, and the impression was that Ayre’s counsel had, to some extent at least, shaped Stafford’s resolution and conduct. Ayre did not talk freely on the matter. He fenced with the idle inquiries of the Territon brothers; he calmed Mrs. Lane’s solicitude with soothing words; he put Morewood off with a sneer at the transitoriness of love-affairs in general. To Eugene he spoke more openly, and did not hesitate to congratulate himself on the part he had taken in reconciling Stafford to life and work. Eugene cordially agreed with his point of view; and Ayre felt that he was in a fair way to be rid of the matter, when one day Claudia sprang upon him with a new assault.
He had come to see her, and tender hearty congratulations. He felt that the successful issue of Eugene’s suit was in some degree his own work, and he was well pleased that his two favorites should have taken to one another. Moreover, he reaped intellectual satisfaction from the fulfillment of a prophecy made when its prospect of realization seemed very scant. Claudia admitted her own pleasure in her engagement, and did not attempt to deny that her affection had dated from a period when by all the canons of propriety she should have had no thoughts of Eugene.
“We are not responsible for our emotions,” she said, laughing; “and you will admit I behaved with the utmost decorum.”
“About your usual decorum,” he replied. “The situation was difficult.”
“It was indeed,” she sighed. “Eugene was so very—well, reckless. But I want to ask you something.”