“With Roger. He’s my tutor, you know.”
“Oh, I see. And Roger objects to—er—females?”
“Oh, yes, and so do I. They’re so useless—most of them. You don’t mind my saying so, do you?”
“Oh, not at all,” she replied, though I’m sure her lips must have been twitching.
“Of course, you’re different. You’re really very like a boy. And I don’t doubt you’re very capable.”
“You look as if you could do things—I mean useful things.”
At this she sank on a rock and buried her face in her hands, quivering from head to foot. Jerry thought that she was crying.
She threw out her arms, leaned back against a tree, her long suppressed merriment bubbling forth unrestrained.
“Oh, you’ll be the death of me,” she laughed, the tears running down her cheeks. “I can’t stand being bottled up another minute. I can’t.”
Jerry was offended.
“I don’t see what there is to laugh at,” he said with some dignity.
“You don’t—that’s just it, you don’t, and that’s what’s so funny.”
And she laughed again.
“What’s funny?” he asked.
“I’m not half as funny as you are, but I don’t laugh at you.”
“Y—you w-would if you didn’t p-pity me so much,” she gasped between giggles.
“I don’t pity you at all. And I think you’re extremely foolish to laugh so much at nothing.”
“Even when I’m laughing at y-you?”
She had taken out her handkerchief and now composed herself with difficulty while Jerry’s ruffled dignity in silence preened at its feathers. She watched him furtively, I’m sure, between dabs with her handkerchief and at last stopped laughing, got up and offered him her hand.
“I’ve made you angry,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
He found that he had taken her hand and was looking at it. The words he used in describing it were these: “It was small, soft and warm, Roger, and seemed alive with vitality, but it was timid, too, like a young thrush just fallen from its nest.” So far as I could discover, he didn’t seem to know what to do with her hand, and before he decided anything she had withdrawn it abruptly and was turning away.
“I’m going now,” she said calmly. “But I’ve enjoyed being here, awfully. It was very nice of you not to—to throw me over the wall.”
“I wouldn’t have, really,” he protested.
“But you might have had me arrested, which would have been worse.” She opened her tin box. “It’s your butterfly, of course. You can have it, if you like.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t take it for anything. Besides, that’s no good.”
“No, common. I’ve got loads of ’em.”
Her nose wrinkled and then she smiled.
“Oh, well, I’ll keep it as a souvenir
of our acquaintance. Good-by,
Jerry.” She smiled.