Lord Saint Sinnes sits down at her side and contemplates his pointed toes. Then he looks at her—his clean-shaven face very grave—with the eye of the steeplechase rider.
“Miss Maddison”—jerk of the chin and pull at collar—“you’re in a ghastly fright.”
Miss Maddison draws in a sudden breath, like a sob, and looks at her lacework handkerchief.
“You think I’m going to ask you to marry me?”
Still no answer. The stiff collar gleams in the light of a Chinese lantern. Lord Saint Sinnes’s linen is a matter of proverb.
“But I’m not. I’m not such a cad as that.”
The girl raises her head, as if she hears a far-off sound.
“I know that old worn——. I daresay I would give great satisfaction to some people if I did! But ... I can’t help that.”
Mabel is bending forward, hiding her face. A tear falls on her silk dress with a little dull flop. Young Saint Sinnes looks at her—almost as if he were going to take her in his arms. Then he shuts his upper teeth over his lower lip, hard—just as he does when riding at the water jump.
“A fellow mayn’t be much to look at,” he says, gruffly, “but he can ride straight, for all that.”
Mabel half turns her head, and he has the satisfaction of concluding that she has no fault to find with his riding.
“Of course,” he says, abruptly, “there is s’m’ other fellow?”
After a pause, Miss Maddison nods.
“Miss Maddison,” says Lord Saint Sinnes, rising and jerking his knees back after the manner of horsey persons, “you can go back into that room and take your Bible oath that I never asked you to marry me.”
Mabel rises also. She wants to say something, but there is a lump in her throat.
“Some people,” he goes on, “will say that you bungled it, others that I behaved abominably, but—but we know better, eh?”
He offers his arm, and they walk toward the house.
Suddenly he stops, and fidgets in his collar.
“Don’t trouble about me,” he says, simply. “I shan’t marry anyone else—I couldn’t do that—but—but I didn’t suspect until to-night, y’know, that there was another man, and a chap must ride straight, you know.”
H. S. M.
WOMEN AND WORK.
BY ALFRED H. MILES.
“Always a hindrance, are we? You didn’t
think that of old;
With never a han’ to help a man, and only a tongue to scold?
Timid as hares in danger—weak as a lamb in strife,
With never a heart to bear a part in the rattle and battle of life!
Just fit to see to the children and manage the home affairs,
With only a head for butter and bread, a soul for tables and chairs?
Where would you be to-morrow if half of the lie were true?
It’s well some women are weak at heart, if only for saving you.