He himself laughed at that—his grim, grudging laugh. “It’s a world of fools, Puck,” he said.
“Or knaves,” said the Dragon-Fly, wisely. And with that she stretched up her arms above her head and laughed again. “Now I know what it feels like,” she said, “to have risen from the dead.”
There came the flash of green wings in the cypresses and a raucous scream of jubilation as the boldest parakeet in the compound flew off with the choicest sweetmeat on the tiffin-table in the veranda. There were always sweets at tiffin in the major’s bungalow. Mrs. Merryon loved sweets. She was wont to say that they were the best remedy for homesickness she knew.
Not that she ever was homesick. At least, no one ever suspected such a possibility, for she had a smile and a quip for all, and her laughter was the gayest in the station. She ran out now, half-dressed, from her bedroom, waving a towel at the marauder.
“That comes of being kind-hearted,” she declared, in the deep voice that accorded so curiously with the frothy lightness of her personality. “Everyone takes advantage of it, sure.”
Her eyes were grey and Irish, and they flashed over the scene dramatically, albeit there was no one to see and admire. For she was strangely captivating, and perhaps it was hardly to be expected that she should be quite unconscious of the fact.
“Much too taking to be good, dear,” had been the verdict of the Commissioner’s wife when she had first seen little Puck Merryon, the major’s bride.
But then the Commissioner’s wife, Mrs. Paget, was so severely plain in every way that perhaps she could scarcely be regarded as an impartial judge. She had never flirted with any one, and could not know the joys thereof.
Young Mrs. Merryon, on the other hand, flirted quite openly and very sweetly with every man she met. It was obviously her nature so to do. She had doubtless done it from her cradle, and would probably continue the practice to her grave.
“A born wheedler,” the colonel called her; but his wife thought “saucy minx” a more appropriate term, and wondered how Major Merryon could put up with her shameless trifling.
As a matter of fact, Merryon wondered himself sometimes; for she flirted with him more than all in that charming, provocative way of hers, coaxed him, laughed at him, brilliantly eluded him. She would perch daintily on the arm of his chair when he was busy, but if he so much as laid a hand upon her she was gone in a flash like a whirling insect, not to return till he was too absorbed to pay any attention to her. And often as those daring red lips mocked him, they were never offered to his even in jest. Yet was she so finished a coquette that the omission was never obvious. It seemed the most natural thing in the world that she should evade all approach to intimacy. They were comrades—just comrades.