“No, I wasn’t scared,” said Rose, and something in her voice gave sudden boldness to her young lover.
He released her arm, and put both his arms around her. “I’m sorry you feel so bad,” he whispered, panting.
“It isn’t anything,” returned Rose, but she half sobbed again; the boy’s round cheek pressed against her wet, burning one. He was several years younger than she. She had half scorned him, but she had one of those natures that crave love for its own sweetness as palates crave sugar.
She wept a little on his shoulder; and the boy, half beside himself with joy and terror, stood holding her fast in his arms.
“Don’t feel bad,” he kept whispering. Finally Rose raised herself. “I must go in,” she whispered; “good-night.”
The boy’s pleading face, his innocent, passionate lips approached hers, and they kissed each other.
“Don’t you—like me a little?” gasped the boy.
“Maybe I will,” Rose whispered back. His face came closer, and she kissed him again. Then, with a murmured “good-night,” she fled into the house, and the boy went down the hill with sweeter dreams in his heart than those which she had lost.
On the Sunday following the one of Barnabas Thayer’s call Sylvia Crane appeared at meeting in a black lace veil like a Spanish senorita. The heavily wrought black lace fell over her face, and people could get only shifting glimpses of her delicate features behind it.
Richard Alger glanced furtively at the pale face shrinking austerely behind the net-work of black silk leaves and flowers, and wondered at some change which he felt but could not fathom. He scarcely knew that she had never worn the veil before. And Richard Alger, had he known, could never have fathomed the purely feminine motive compounded of pride and shame which led his old sweetheart to unearth from the depths of a bandbox her mother’s worked-lace veil, and tie its narrow black drawing-string with trembling fingers over her own bonnet.
“I’d like to know what in creation you’ve got that veil on for?” whispered her sister, Hannah Berry, as they went down the aisle after meeting.
“I thought I would,” responded Sylvia’s muffled voice behind the veil.
“You’ve got the flowers right over your eyes. I shouldn’t think you could see to walk. You ain’t never worn a veil in your life. I can’t see what has got into you,” persisted Hannah.
Sylvia edged away from her as soon as she could, and glided down the road towards her own house swiftly, although her knees trembled. Sylvia’s knees always trembled when she came out of church, after she had sat an hour and a half opposite Richard Alger. To-day they felt weaker than ever, after her encounter with Hannah. Nobody knew the terror Sylvia had of her sister’s discovering how she had called in Barnabas Thayer, and in a manner unveiled her maiden heart to him. When Charlotte had come in that night after Barnabas had gone, and discovered her crying on the sofa, she had jumped up and confronted her with a fierce instinct of concealment.