The library was their fad together, for Jean was as much of a bibliomaniac, almost, as was her husband, and I confess I enjoyed myself amid the rich collection, made without precedent or reason, but, somehow, wonderfully attractive. They were whimsical, the pair, with books as with regard to other things, but the few who might invade their library were inclined to linger there. I always found a mingled odor there of cigar-smoke and of some perfume which Jean preferred, and I learned to like the combination. Maybe that was a perverted taste,—cigar-smoke and delicate perfumes are not consorted in the code of odor-lovers,—but, as I say, I learned to like it.
I have but little more to tell of this first wedded year of my dear friends. One incident I may relate. It occurred less than a year from the date of the outing in the woods. There were relations each of the two should meet, and he was very busy with many things, and it was, finally, after much thought, decided that Jean should go her way and he his for two long weeks; so they bade good-by to each other and left the city, in different directions, the same day.
It was just four days later when I got a note asking me to call at the house. It was from Jean, and she was a little shame-faced when she met me. Certain business complications had arisen in Grant’s absence to which I might attend, and it was for this that she had summoned me; but she had an explanation to make. She did it, blushing.
“I went to my people, Alf,” she said, “but it palled in a couple of days. That is all. I’d rather be here alone, where he has been, and await him here, than be anywhere else. It’s foolish, of course, but you, who know us both so well, may possibly understand.” And she blushed more than ever.
The next day there stalked into my office a man who asked me to lunch. It was Grant Harlson. There was a quizzical look on his face, and a rather happy one.
“I won’t tell you anything, old man,” he said. “I was only a few hours behind the girl. That’s all. I suppose we might as well keep up the fool record we have begun. It suits me, anyhow.”
And a single man, knowing nothing about such things, could give no opinion. I was abusive and sarcastic, but he insisted on buying a great luncheon.
Given a man and a woman, married, loving each other, and what a recent clever writer calls “the inevitable consequences” ordinarily come and cause the inevitable anxiety, more, doubtless, to the man than to the woman. There comes a time when she he loves must bear him their first child. In primitive existence this trouble to the man must have been much less, must have been little more than the sympathy of an hour, because, in nature, unaffected, there is seldom much of suffering and almost never death prematurely. But we have changed all this.