“I’ll let you go, if I must; but I’ll come to you—if you live in a hovel—if you live in a cave—if you live—Oh, I know how you live!”
“How do I live?” she asked, laughing a little unsteadily, and as if there were tears in her eyes, though of this he could not be sure.
“You live in a plain little house, with just a few of the things you used to have about you; rows of books, a picture or two, and some old china. Things may be a bit shabby, but everything is beautifully neat, and there are garden flowers on the table, perhaps white lilacs!”
“Oh, what a romanticist!” she said, through her soft laughter. “One would think you wrote novels instead of specifications for concrete walls. What if you come and find me living with my older sister, who sews for a living, plain sewing, at a dollar a day? And we have a long credit account at the grocery, which we can’t pay? And at night our little upstairs room is full of neighbours, untidy, loud-talking, commonplace women? And the lamp smokes—”
“It wouldn’t smoke; you would have trimmed it,” he answered, quickly and with conviction. “But, even if it were all like that, you would still be the perfect thing you are. And I would take you away—”
“If you don’t drive on, Mr. King,” she interposed gently, “you will soon be mentally unfit to drive at all. And I must be back before the darkness has quite fallen. And—don’t you think we have talked enough about ourselves?”
“I like that word,” he declared as he obediently set the car in motion. “Ourselves—that sounds good to me. As long as you keep me with you that way I’ll try to be satisfied. One thing I’m sure of: I’ve something to work for now that I didn’t have this morning. Oh, I know; you haven’t given me a thing. But you’re going to let me come to see you next spring, and that’s worth everything to me. Meanwhile, I’ll do my level best—for you.”
* * * * *
When he drew up before the door of the church, where, in spite of his entreaties that he be allowed to take her to her lodging place, Anne insisted on being left, he felt, in spite of all he had gained that day, a sinking of the heart. Though the hour was early and the neighbourhood at this time of day a quiet one, and though she assured him that she had not far to go, he was unhappy to leave her thus unaccompanied.
“I wish I could possibly imagine why it must be this way,” he said to himself as he stood hat in hand beside his car, watching Anne Linton’s quickly departing figure grow more and more shadowy as the twilight enveloped it. “Well, one thing is certain: whatever she does there’s a good and sufficient reason; and I trust her.”
RED HEADED AGAIN