“I told her how deeply interested I had become in your outspoken manner.”
“Oh! And she exclaimed, ‘How romantic!’”
“Possibly; she likewise took occasion to suggest that you were merely a child, and seemed astonished that I should have given you a second thought.”
“Why, I am eighteen.”
“I told her I believed you to be of that age, and she ignored my remark. But what truly surprised both of us was, how you happened to know my name.”
The girl did not attempt to answer, and she was thankful enough that there was not sufficient light to betray the reddening of her cheeks.
“And you do not mean, even now, to make clear the mystery?” he asked.
“Not—now,” she answered, almost timidly. “It is nothing much, only I would rather not now.”
The sudden sound of voices and laughter in the street beneath brought them both to their feet.
“Why, they are coming across to supper,” she exclaimed, in surprise. “How long we have been here, and it has seemed scarcely a moment! I shall certainly be in for a scolding, Lieutenant Brant; and I fear your only means of saving me from being promptly sent home in disgrace will be to escort me in to supper.”
“A delightful punishment!” He drew her hand through his arm, and said: “And then you will pledge me the first dance following?”
“Oh, you must n’t ask me. Really, I have not been on the floor to-night; I am not in the mood.”
“Do you yield to moods?”
“Why, of course I do. Is it not a woman’s privilege? If you know me long it will be to find me all moods.”
“If they only prove as attractive as the particular one swaying you to-night, I shall certainly have no cause for complaint. Come, Miss Naida, please cultivate the mood to say yes, before those others arrive.”
She glanced up at him, shaking her dark hair, her lips smiling. “My present mood is certainly a good-natured one,” she confessed, softly, “and consequently it is impossible to say no.”
His hand pressed hers, as the thronging couples came merrily up the steps.
“Why, Naida, is this you, child? Where have you been all this time?” It was Miss Spencer, clinging to Mr. Wynkoop’s arm.
“Merely sitting out a dance,” was the seemingly indifferent answer; then she added sweetly, “Have you ever met my friend, Lieutenant Brant, of the Seventh Cavalry, Phoebe? We were just going in to supper.”
Miss Spencer’s glance swept over the silent young officer. “I believe I have had the honor. It was my privilege to be introduced to the gentleman by a mutual friend.”
The inward rush of hungry guests swept them all forward in laughing, jostling confusion; but Naida’s cheeks burned with indignation.
THE REAPPEARANCE OF AN OLD FRIEND