“I’m afraid you’ve had a dreadful hard time, livin’ alone so long, an’ tryin’ to do for yourself,” said Sylvia, pitifully.
“I’m glad I have,” replied Richard, grimly.
He clasped Sylvia closer; her best bonnet was all crushed against his breast. He looked around over her head, as if searching for something.
“Where’s the sofa gone?” he asked.
“I gave it to Rose for a weddin’ present. I thought I shouldn’t ever need it,” Sylvia murmured.
“Well, I’ve got one, it ain’t any matter,” said Richard.
He moved towards the rocking-chair, drawing Sylvia gently along with him.
“Sit down, Sylvia,” said he, softly.
“No, you sit down in the rocking-chair, Richard,” said Sylvia. She reached out and pulled a flag-bottomed chair close and sat down herself. Richard sat in the rocking-chair.
Sylvia untied her bonnet, took it off, and straightened it. Richard watched her. “I want you to have a white bonnet,” said he.
“I’m too old, Richard,” Sylvia replied, blushing.
“No, you ain’t,” he said, defiantly; “you’ve got to have a white bonnet.”
Sylvia looked in his face—and indeed hers looked young enough for a white bonnet; it flushed and lit up, like an old flower revived in a new spring.
Richard leaned over towards her, and the two old lovers kissed each other. Richard moved his chair close to hers, and Sylvia felt his arm coming around her waist. She sat still. “Put your head down on my shoulder,” whispered Richard.
And Sylvia laid her head on Richard’s shoulder. She felt as if she were dreaming of a dream.
When Richard Alger went home he wore an old brown shawl of Sylvia’s over his shoulders. He had demurred a little. “I can’t go down the street with your shawl on, Sylvia,” he had pleaded, but Sylvia insisted.
“You’ll catch your death of cold, goin’ home in your shirt-sleeves,” she said. “They won’t know it’s my shawl. Men wear shawls.”
“You’ve worn this ever since I’ve known you, Sylvia, an’ I ain’t given to catchin’ cold easy,” said Richard almost pitifully. But he stood still and let Sylvia pin the shawl around his neck. Sylvia seemed to have suddenly acquired a curious maternal authority over him, and he submitted to it as if it were merely natural that he should.
Richard Alger went meekly down the road, wearing the old brown shawl that had often draped Sylvia Crane’s slender feminine shoulders when she walked abroad, since she was a young girl. Sylvia had always worn it corner-wise, but she had folded it square for him as making it more of a masculine garment. Two corners waved out stiffly from his square shoulders. He tried to swing his arms unconcernedly under it; once the fringe hit his hand and he jumped.