“It is very kind of you,” he said. “I am not prepared to make a visit,—I mean my clothes, and that sort of thing,—but if you will take me as I am, I will come with pleasure.”
Mr. Cowper’s face showed the liveliest satisfaction. Edith, on the other hand, never turned her head, although she felt Burton’s eyes upon her.
“Capital!” the professor declared. “Now do not think that we are trying to abduct you, but there is a motor-car outside. We are going to take you straight home. You can have a little recreation this beautiful afternoon—a walk on the moors, or some tennis with Edith here. We will try and give you a pleasant time. You must collect your work now and go and put your things together. We are not in the least hurry. We will wait.”
Burton rose a little unsteadily to his feet. He was weary with much labor, carried a little away by this wonderful prospect of living in the same house, of having her by his side continually. It was too amazing to realize. His heart gave a great leap as she moved towards him and looked a little shyly into his face.
“May I not help you to pick up these sheets? I see that you have numbered them all. I will keep them in their proper order. Perhaps you could trust me to do that while you went and packed your bag?”
“Quite right, my dear—quite right,” the professor remarked, approvingly. “You will find my daughter most careful in such matters, Mr. Burton. She is used to being associated with work of importance.”
“You are very kind,” Burton murmured. “If you will excuse me, then, for a few moments?”
“By all means,” the professor declared. “And pray suit yourself entirely, Mr. Burton, as to the clothes you bring and the preparations you make for your visit. If you prefer not to change for the evening, I will do the same. I am renowned in the neighborhood chiefly for my shabbiness and my carpet slippers.”
Burton paused on the threshold and looked back. Edith was bending over the table, collecting the loose sheets of manuscript. The sunlight had turned her hair almost to the color of flame. Against the background of the open window, her slim, delicate figure, clad in a fashionable mist of lace and muslin, seemed to him like some wonderful piece of intensely modern statuary. Between them the professor sat, with his arms still folded, a benevolent yet pensive smile upon his lips.
Enter Mr. Bomford!