“Love isn’t like that,” flashed Diane. “It comes unbidden.”
“To different natures come different dawnings of the immortal white fire!” shrugged Carl. “My love will be largely a matter of will. I’m armored heavily.”
“For a golden key!” scoffed Diane, rising.
“Ah, well,” said Carl impudently, “it was well worth a try! I’m sure I could love with all the fiery appurtenances of the Devil himself if I shed the armor.”
THE VOICE OF THE OPEN COUNTRY
“Aunt Agatha!” Diane rapped lightly at her aunt’s bedroom door. “Are you asleep?”
“No, no indeed!” puffed Aunt Agatha forlornly. “Certainly not. When in the world did you come back from the farm, child? I’ve worried so! And like you, too, to come back as unexpectedly as you went.” She opened the door wider for her niece to enter. “But as for sleep, Diane, I hope I’m not as callous as that. I shan’t sleep a wink to-night, I’m sure of it.”
Aunt Agatha dabbed ineffectually at her round, aggrieved eyes.
“Carl’s a terrible responsibility for me, Diane,” she went on, “though to be sure there have been wild nights when I’ve put cotton in my ears and locked the door and if I’d only remembered to do that I wouldn’t have heard the glass crash—one of the Florentine set, too, I haven’t the ghost of a doubt. I feel those things, Diane. Mamma, too, had a gift of feeling things she didn’t know for sure—mamma did!—and the servants talk—of course they do!—who wouldn’t? I must say, though, Carl’s always kind to me; I will say that for him but—”
The excellent lady whose mental convolutions permitted her to speculate wildly in words with the least possible investment of ideas, rambled by serpentine paths of complaint to a conversational cul-de-sac and trailed off in a tragic sniff.
Diane resolutely smothered her impatience.
“I—I only ran down overnight. Aunt Agatha,” she said, “to—to tell you something—”
“You can’t mean it!” puffed Aunt Agatha helplessly. “What in the world are you going back to the farm for? Dear me, Diane, you’re growing notional—and farms are very damp in spring.”
Diane walked away to the window and stood staring thoughtfully out at the metropolitan glitter of lights beyond.
“Oh, Aunt Agatha!” she exclaimed restlessly, “you can’t imagine how very tired I grow of it all—of lights and cities and restaurants and everything artificial! Surely these city days and nights of silly frivolity are only the froth of life! Have you ever longed to sleep in the woods,” she added abruptly, “with stars twinkling overhead and the moonlight showering softly through the trees?”
“I’m very sure I never have!” said Aunt Agatha with considerable decision. “And it’s not at all likely I ever shall. There are bugs and things,” she added vaguely, “and snakes that wriggle about.”