A whistle—quite involuntary, if not polite—was shaping itself a brief distance below his staring eyes, when, recovering himself and tiptoeing to his full height, he peered into the branches and said, a little irrelevantly:
“I beg pardon!”
Two milk-white hands parted the leaves, and a flushed pink-and-white face appeared at the opening.
“It’s only me,” cooed a musical voice, and as if the sound had unlocked the pent-up silence, two rows of pearls shone between two red lips, two large blue eyes twinkled with fun, and as charming a peal of laughter as was ever vouchsafed to mortal ears rippled merrily on the air.
“And who is me, may I ask?” rather saucily asked the routed artist.
“Why, Daisy—Daisy Merrifield; don’t you know?”
“Why, no, I don’t know; that is, I didn’t know, but of course I know now; and I’m delighted to know.”
At all these “knows”, the maiden laughed her merry laugh again.
“May I ask what you are doing up there?”
“Doing nothing—just what you are doing down here.”
“Ah, but I was doing something very nice down here, only you have nearly spoiled it,” and with mock regret the young man picked up the slipper and comically surveyed its Cinderella proportions.
“So I did,” was the regretful reply, “you see it was awfully poky, having to sit so still. I must have grown desperate at last and kicked it off—I am sorry.”
“Well, I am not one bit sorry,” he said. “I’ll do another picture, and next time I’ll sketch the tree,” he added, his brown eyes twinkling with amusement.
“But how did you get up there, and how will you get down?” were his next queries, putting the little slipper into the pocket of his jacket.
“Well, I climbed up,” she admitted. “I suppose I’ll have to jump down. Reach out your hands,” she cried, and a sudden rustle showed she was preparing to spring. “Good gracious me!” was her next exclamation, as the willing hands were extended, “my hair is all caught.”
“Hold perfectly still till I get up there,” he said with concern, and replacing the stool, he was soon on a level with the fair prisoner.
Patiently he disentangled the long golden locks from the infringing boughs, and gathering them all in her little hands, she gave them a vigorous twist forward over her face out of further mischief.
“Now, my slipper, please,” as the young fellow retreated. Obediently restoring the truant article, she deftly adjusted it, and cried, “All ready!”
It is hardly to be wondered at that her descent was arrested, and her rounded form tenderly lowered to terra firma.
“I like this out here, don’t you?” was her next remark, shaking out her fairy muslin skirts and placidly surveying the scene. “I’ve been out every day these—let me see—yes, three days. Aunt Hepsy says I’ll get tanned, but I don’t mind. You know Aunt Hepsy, don’t you? Everybody does.”