“A girl from home——!”
“Well, all America seems home from this place. And I shouldn’t be surprised if we knew a lot of the same people ... You can get a good line on me that way, you know,” he laughed. “Now I went to Williams and then to Boston Tech., and there must be acquaintances——”
“Don’t!” said Arlee, with a laughing gesture of prohibition. “We probably have thousands of the same acquaintances, and you would turn out to be some one I knew everything about—perhaps the first fiance of my roommate whose letters I used to help her answer.”
“Where did you go to school?”
“At Elm Court School, near New York. For just a year.”
He shook his head with an air of relief. “Never was engaged to anybody’s roommate there.... But if you’d rather not have my background painted——”
“Much rather not,” said the girl gaily. “Why, half the romance, I mean the fun, of meeting people abroad is not knowing anything about them beforehand.”
The music was beginning again. Unwillingly the remembrance of the outer world beat back into Billy’s mind. Unhappily he became aware that the room appeared blackened with young men in evening clothes, staring ominously his way.
Squarely he stood in front of the girl. “I think this is the encore to our dance,” he told her with a little smile.
She shook her pretty head laughingly at him—and then yielded to his clasping hands. “But we must dance back to the Evershams,” she demurred. “It is time for us to go to our concert.”
But Billy had no intention of relinquishing her before the music ceased. It was a one step, and it carried them with it in a gaiety of rhythm to which the girl gave herself with the light-hearted abandon of a romping child. Her light feet seemed scarcely to brush the floor; the delicate flush of her cheeks deepened with the stirring blood; her lips parted breathlessly over white little teeth, and when her eyes, intensely blue, met Billy’s, the smile in them quickened in sparkling radiance. She was the very spirit of the dance; she was Youth and Joy incarnate. And the heart behind the white shirt bosom near which her fairy hair was floating began to pitch and toss like a laboring ship in the very devil of a sea.
“I think I’ll go up the Nile again,” said Billy irrelevantly.
She laughed elfishly at him, her head swaying faintly with the rhythm.
“Three weeks,” said Billy under his breath, “that’s twenty-one days—at ten dollars a day. Now I wonder how many hours—or moments—that rash outlay would assure?”
“You miser! You calculating——”
“You have to calculate—when you’re an engineer.”
“But to be sure spoils the charm! Now I—I do things on impulse.”
“If you will only have the impulse to dance with me—on the Nile——”
“Why not risk it?” she challenged lightly, arrant mischief in her eyes. She added, in mocking tone, “There’s a moon.”