They shared one umbrella. And they played that it was over fifty years ago when the Autocrat had walked with the young Schoolmistress. They even walked arm in arm under the umbrella. They took the long path to Boylston Street. And Cope said, “Will you take the long path with me?”
And Becky said, “Certainly.”
And they both laughed. But there was no laughter in Cope’s heart.
“Becky,” he said, “I wish that you and I had lived a century ago in Louisberg Square.”
“If we had lived then, we shouldn’t be living now.”
“But we should have had our—happiness——”
“And I should have worn lovely flowing silk skirts. Not short things like this, and little bonnets with flowers inside, and velvet mantles——”
“And you would have walked on my arm to church. And we would have owned one of those old big houses—and your smile would have greeted me across the candles every day at dinner——” He was making it rather personal, but she humored his fancy.
“And you would have worn a blue coat, and a bunch of big seals, and a furry high hat——”
“You are thinking all the time about what we would wear,” he complained; “you haven’t any sense of romance, Becky——”
“Well, of course, it is all make-believe.”
“Yes, it is all—make-believe,” he said, and walked in silence after that.
The wind blew cold and they stopped in a pastry shop on Boylston Street and had a cup of tea.
Becky ate little cream cakes with fluted crusts, and drank Orange Pekoe.
“I am glad you don’t wear flowing silks and velvet mantles,” said Archibald, suddenly; “I shall always remember you like this, Becky, in your rough brown coat and your close little hat, and that your hand was on my arm when we walked across the Common. Do you like me as a playmate, Becky?”
“Do you—love me—as a playmate?” He leaned forward.
“I beg your—pardon——” he flushed. “I am not going to say such things to you, Becky, and spoil things for both of us—I know you don’t want to hear them——”
“Make-believe is much nicer,” she reminded him steadily.
“But I am not a make-believe friend, am I? Our friendship—that at least is—real?”
Her clear eyes met his. “Yes. We shall always be friends—forever——”
“How long is forever, Becky?”
She could not answer that. But she was sure that friendship was like love and lived beyond the grave. They were very serious about it, these two young people drinking tea.
It was when the four of them were gathered together that night in the library that Becky asked Archibald Cope to read “The Trumpeter Swan.”
“Randy wrote it,” she said, “and he sent the manuscript to me this morning.”
The Admiral was at once interested. “He got the name from the swan in the Judge’s Bird Room?”