After the drill, Porter took the whole party back to Delilah’s for tea. And when her guests had gone, and the black-haired beauty went to her flamingo room to dress for dinner, she found a note on her pincushion.
“I have taken Barry’s picture, because he meant it for me; it was a mistake, your getting it. He left it with the new maid one day when you were at our house, and she handed it to you instead of to me—she mixed up our names, just as the maids used to mix them up at school. And I know you won’t mind my taking it, because with you it is just a game to play at love—with Barry. But it is my life, as you said that day in the Park. And to-day Barry told me that it is his life, too. And I am very happy. But this is our secret, and please let it be your secret until we let the rest of the world know——”
Delilah, reading the childish scrawl, smiled and shook her head. Then she went to the telephone and called up Leila.
“Duckie,” she said, “I’ll dance at your wedding. Only don’t love him too much—no man is worth it.”
Then, triumphant from the other end of the line, came the voice of Perfect Faith—“Oh, Barry’s worth it. I’ve known him all my life, Lilah, and I’ve never had a single doubt.”
In Which Roger Sallies Forth in the Service of a Damsel in Distress, and in Which He Meets Dragons Along the Way.
In the weeks which followed the trip to Fort Myer, Mary found an astonishing change in her brother. For the first time in his life he seemed to be taking things seriously. He stayed at home at night and studied. He gave up Jerry Tuckerman and the other radiant musketeers. She did not know the reason for the change but it brought her hope and happiness.
Barry saw Leila often, but, as yet, no one but Delilah Jeliffe knew of the tie between them.
“I ought to tell Dad,” Leila had said, timidly; “he’d be very happy. It is what he has always wanted, Barry.”
“I must prove myself a man first,” Barry told her, “I’ve squandered some of my opportunities, but now that I have you to work for, I feel as strong as a lion.”
They were alone in the General’s library. “It is because you trust me, dear one,” Barry went on, “that I am strong.”
She slipped her little hand into his. “Barry—it seems so queer to think that I shall ever be—your wife.”
“You had to be. It was meant from the—beginning.”
“Was it, Barry?”
“And it will be to the end. Oh, I shall always love you, dearly, dearly——”
It was idyllic, their little love affair—their big love affair, if one judged by their measure. It was tender, sweet, and because it was their secret, because there was no word of doubt or of distrust from those who were older and wiser, they brought to it all the beauty of youth and high hope.