“I will, if you want me to,” said Jerome.
They were out in the front yard then, a gust of wind pressed under the trees, and seemed to blow them together. Lucina’s white muslin fluttered around Jerome’s knees, her curls floated across his breast.
“Oh,” murmured Lucina, confusedly, “this wind has come all of a sudden,” and she stood apart from him.
“You will take cold; we had better go in,” said Jerome. They went into the house, Jerome being a little hurt that Lucina had shrunk away from him so quickly, and Lucina disappointed that Jerome was so solicitous lest she take cold. Then they sat down again in the corner, and remembered that Jerome ate two pieces of cake at Miss Camilla’s tea-party and she two and a half.
Somehow, before the party broke up that night, it was understood that Jerome was to come and see her the next Sunday night. And yet Lucina had not invited him, nor he asked permission to come.
Jerome’s mind, during the two days after the party, was in a sort of dazzle of efflorescence, and could not precipitate any clear ideas for his own understanding. Love had been so outside his calculation of life, that his imagination, even, had scarcely grasped the possibility of it.
He worked on stolidly, having all the time before his mental vision, like one with closed eyes in a bright room, a shifting splendor as of strange scenes and clouds.
He could not sleep nor eat, his spirit seemed to inhabit his flesh so thoroughly as to do away with the material needs of it. Still, all things that appealed to his senses seemed enhanced in power, becoming so loud and so magnified that they produced a confusion of hearing and vision. The calls of the spring birds sounded as if in his very ear, with an insistence of meaning; the spring flowers bloomed where he had never seen them, and the fragrance of each was as evident to him as a voice.
Jerome wondered vaguely if this strange exaltation of spirit were illness. Sunday morning, when he could not eat his breakfast, his mother told him that there were red spots on his cheeks, and she feared he was feverish.
He laughed scornfully at the idea, but looked curiously at himself in his little square of mirror, when he was dressing for meeting. The red spots were there, burning in his cheeks, and his eyes were brilliant. For a minute he wondered anxiously if he were feverish, if he were going to be ill, and, if so, what his mother and sister would do. He even felt his own pulse as he stood there, and discovered that it was quick. Then, all at once, his face in the glass looked out at him with a flash as from some sub-state of consciousness in the depths of his own being, which he could not as yet quite fathom.
“I don’t know what ails me,” he muttered, as he turned away. He felt as he had when puzzling over the unknown quantity in an algebraic equation. It was not until he was sitting in meeting, looking forward at Lucina’s fair profile, cut in clear curves like a lily, that the solution came to him.