He was saying that he loved her, loved her. Did she understand? That he had been miserable? His defense was masterly. He played on her imagination delicately, as if she were a harp, and his fingers touched the strings. He realized what a cad he must have seemed. But she was a saint in a shrine—it will be seen that he did not hesitate to borrow from Randy. She was a saint in a shrine, and well, he knelt at her feet—a sinner. “You needn’t think that I don’t know what I have done, Becky. I swept you along with me without a thought of anything serious in it for either of us. It was just a game, sweetheart, and lots of people play it, but it isn’t a game now, it is the most serious thing in life.”
There is no eloquence so potent as that which is backed by genuine passion. Becky coming down through the garden had been so sure of herself. She had felt that pride would be the rock to which she would anchor her resistance to his enchantments. Yet here in the garden——
“Oh, please,” she said, and stood up.
He rose, too, and towered above her. “Becky,” he said, hoarsely, “it’s the real thing—for me——”
His spell was upon her. She was held by it—drawn by it against her will. Her cry was that of a frightened and fascinated bird.
He bent down. His face was a white circle in the dark, but she could see the sparkle of his eyes. “Kiss me, Becky.”
“I shall never kiss you again.”
“I love you.”
“Love,” she said, with a sort of tense quiet, “does not kiss and run away.”
“My heart never ran away. I swear it. Marry me, Becky.”
He had never expected to ask her. But now that he had done it, he was glad.
She was swayed by his earnestness, by the thought of all he had meant to her in her dreams of yesterday. But to-day was not yesterday, and George was not the man of those dreams. Yet, why not? There was the quick laughter, with its new ring of sincerity, the sparkling eyes, the Apollo head.
“Marry me, Becky.”
Beyond the pool which reflected the little star was the dark outline of the box hedge, and beyond the hedge, the rise of the hill showed dark against the dull silver of the sky—a shadow seemed to rise suddenly in that dim brightness, the tall thin shadow of a man with a clear-cut profile, and a high-held head!
Becky drew a sharp breath—then faced Dalton squarely. “I am going to marry Randy.”
His laugh was triumphant——
“Do you think I am going to let you? You are mine, Becky, and you know it. You are mine——”
Randy, having made a record run with Little Sister to the Flippins’, had brought back Major Prime. When he returned Becky had disappeared. He looked for her, knowing all the time that she had gone down into the garden to meet Dalton. And he had brought Dalton back to her, he had given him this opportunity to plead his cause, had given him the incentive of a man of his kind to still pursue; he had, as he had said, let Becky in for it, and now he was raging at the thought.