“Poor little Maggie—poor little kid!”
TELLS HOW RAVENSLEE BROKE HIS WORD AND WHY
“Past eleven o’clock, dear,” said Hermione.
“Still so early?” sighed Ravenslee.
They were sitting alone in the fire glow, so near that by moving his hand he could touch her where she sat curled up in the great armchair; but he did not reach out his hand because they were alone and in the fire glow, and Hermione had never seemed quite so alluring.
“How cosy a fire is—and how unnecessary!” she sighed contentedly.
“I’m English enough to love a fire, especially when it is unnecessary,” he answered.
“My mother was English; that’s why I was educated in England.”
“Your mother! How she must have loved you!”
“I suppose she did; but, you see, she died when I was a baby.”
“Poor lonely mite!” Here her hand came out impulsively to caress his coat sleeve and to be prisoned there by two other hands, to be lifted and pressed to burning lips, whereat she grew all rosy in the fire glow.
“I suppose,” said he, the words coming a little unevenly, “it would be too much to ask my wife to—come a little—nearer?”
“Nearer? Why, Geoffrey, dear, our chairs are touching now.”
“Our chairs? Why, yes—so they are! I suppose,” sighed he, “I suppose it would be breaking my word to my wife if I happened to—kiss my wife?”
“Why, Geoffrey—of course it would!”
“Yes, I feared so!” he nodded and kissed her hand instead, and there fell a silence.
“How heavenly it is!” she whispered softly, leaning a little nearer to him.
“Heavenly!” he answered, leaning a little nearer to her and watching the droop of her lashes.
“So—so quiet and—peaceful!” she added, drawing away again, conscious of his look.
“Horribly!” he sighed.
“Quiet and peace,” he explained, “may hold such an infinitude of possibilities impossible of realisation to a husband who is bound by promises, that it is apt to be a little—trying.”
Hermione didn’t speak but drew his hand to be caressed by the soft oval of a cheek and touched by the velvet of shy lips.
“And yet,” he went on, staring resolutely at the fire, “I wouldn’t change—this, for anything else the world could offer me!”
“Bear with me—a little longer, dear!” she murmured.
“As long as you will, Hermione—providing—”
“Well, my Geoffrey, dear?”
“That it is only—a little longer.”
“You don’t think I’m very—silly, do you, dear?” she enquired, staring into the fire.
“No, not very!”
“Oh!” she said softly, glancing at him reproachfully. “You don’t think me—cruel?”
“Not very,” he answered, kissing her hand again.