“Because you nursed me so tenderly!”
“Ah, no, there were others to do that—no, God gave you back to me because He is merciful, and because I love you—want you—need you so much!”
“Oh, my Hermione—Kiss me!”
A knock at the door, and, quick-breathing, she drew from him as the voice of Mrs. Trapes reached them.
“Ten minutes is up!” she announced as she entered, “and Hermy, if you don’t want th’ doctor t’ see you in your nightdress an’ that—”
“Ann!” gasped Hermione, drawing the folds of her kimono about her.
“Anyway, he’s coming.”
Up sprang Hermione, in doing which she lost a slipper.
“Give it me!” she pleaded, for Ravenslee had caught it up.
“Dear, you have one—be content,” he answered. “And surely I may kiss my wife’s slipper without you having to blush so—so deliciously, Hermione?”
“It’s so—old and shabby!” said she faintly.
“That’s why I kiss it.”
“An’ here comes th’ doctor!” said Mrs. Trapes. Whereat Hermione incontinent fled away, white foot agleam. Then Ravenslee, having kissed the little slipper quite brazenly under Mrs. Trapes’s staring eyes, tucked it beneath his pillow.
“Why, Mr. Geoffrey!” said Mrs. Trapes.
CONCERNING A CLEW
“Mrs. Trapes,” said Ravenslee, laying aside the book he had been reading and letting his glance wander across smooth lawns and clipped yew hedges, “Mrs. Trapes, what about that stewed shin of beef with carrots and onions you prepared for—our wedding supper?”
“Which,” said Mrs. Trapes, glancing up from her everlasting knitting, “which you never stopped to eat.”
“Which omission I will now haste to rectify. Mrs. Trapes, pray go and get it ready—I’m ravenous!”
“Good f’r you!” said Mrs. Trapes; “in about half an hour you shall have a nice cup of beef tea to raven at—”
“Confounded slops!” growled Ravenslee.
“Doctor’s orders!” nodded Mrs. Trapes, clicking her knitting needles.
“Can’t I have something to chew at?”
“Sure. How’ll a cracker soaked in milk soot?”
“Cracker!” snarled Ravenslee.
Ravenslee muttered and took up his book.
“Helen who, did you say?” enquired Mrs. Trapes, glancing up. “Mr. Geoffrey—I mean Ravenslee, I’m surprised at you—swearin’ ain’t good for a invalid; your temperature’ll be rose if you swear.”
“But, my dear Mrs. Trapes, I’m hungry, very hungry—darned hungry!”
“Which is a sign as you’re improvin’ rapid. Beef tea’ll be here soon.”
“I won’t drink the stuff!”
“Oh, but you will, when Hermy brings it.”
“Hermione!” said Ravenslee, his voice grown gentle, and laying down his book again. “Mrs. Trapes, have you noticed any change in her lately?”