She laughed. “I could drink yours.”
He bared his arm in an instant, and sank the point of a pen-knife into a small vein. The red current came out upon the smooth skin prettily. She looked at Harlson’s act in astonishment, and turned a little pale; then, all at once, with a great resolve in her eyes, she bent swiftly forward and applied the red of her lips to that upon the arm. She raised her head proudly, and he looked at her delightedly.
“How did it taste?”
“Salty”—with a pucker of her lips and a desperate effort to keep from fainting.
“Yes, there is much saline matter in blood. Even such admirable blood as that you have just tasted is, no doubt, a little salty. Are you sorry you did it?”
“No,” she said, bravely, but she was pallid still.
“Allow me to remind you that science has learned many things, and that you will have, literally, some of my blood in your veins. Not much, it is true, but there will be a little.”
She replied that she was glad of it.
And henceforth, when her moods most pleased his lordship, he would comment on the good effect of the experiment, and when they differed he would regret that she had not taken more of him.
They were two fools.
“MY LITTLE RHINOCEROS-BIRD.”
It was not all sweet nonsense, though, with this man and woman. Some practical things of life became theirs soon, because of the love which was theirs.
A curious thing, and to me a pleasant thing, occurred one night. I was with Grant Harlson in his room, and he was lying on a sofa smoking, while I lounged in an easy-chair. Harlson was pretty well fagged out, for it was the end of a hard day for him, as, for that matter, it had been for me. There was a ward to be carried against a ring, and Harlson was in the midst of the fray for half a hundred reasons, and I was aiding him. He headed the more reputable faction, but in the opposition were many shrewd men and men of standing.
It was no simple task we had before us, and we had been working hard, and we were not quite satisfied with the condition of things. The relations of two men of prominence we wanted to know particularly. Had there, or had there not, been a coalition between them? If there had, it would change Harlson’s policy, naturally, but work so far had been conducted on the supposition that an ancient political feud between the two was not yet ended, and that upon the support of one against the other he could count with reasonable certainty. We were discussing this very matter when there came a ring at the door, and a cab-driver entered.
“There is a lady in my cab,” said he, “who wants to see Mr. Harlson.”
Harlson was puzzled.
“I don’t know what it means,” he said. “Come down with me and we’ll solve the mystery,” and we went to where the cab was drawn close to the sidewalk.