“Everything seems so different after one is married,” she stated.
“Is that really so?” cried Ellen. “Well, I shall soon know, Fan, for I’m to be married in the fall.”
"Married? Why, Ellen Dix!"
“Uh—huh,” confirmed Ellen, quite satisfied with the success of her coup. “You don’t know him, Fan; but he’s perfectly elegant—and handsome! Just wait till you see him.”
Ellen rocked herself to and fro excitedly.
“I met him in Grenoble last winter, and we’re going to live there in the sweetest house. He fell in love with me the first minute he saw me. You never knew anyone to be so awfully in love ... m’m!”
Without in the least comprehending the reason for the phenomenon, Mrs. Wesley Elliot experienced a singular depression of spirit. Of course she was glad poor dear Ellen was to be happy. She strove to infuse a sprightly satisfaction into her tone and manner as she said:
“What wonderful news, dear. But isn’t it rather—sudden? I mean, oughtn’t you to have known him longer! ...You didn’t tell me his name.”
Ellen’s piquant dark face sparkled with mischief and happiness.
“His name is Harvey Wade,” she replied; “you know Wade and Hampton, where you bought your wedding things, Fan? Everybody knows the Wades, and I’ve known Harvey long enough to—”
She grew suddenly wistful as she eyed her friend:
“You have changed a lot since you were married, Fan; all the girls think so. Sometimes I feel almost afraid of you. Is it—do you—?”
Fanny’s unaccountable resentment melted before a sudden rush of sympathy and understanding. She drew Ellen’s blushing face close to her own in the sweetness of caresses:
“I’m so glad for you, dear, so glad!”
“And you’ll tell Jim?” begged Ellen, after a silence full of thrills. “I should hate to have him suppose—”
“He doesn’t, Ellen,” Jim’s sister assured her, out of a secret fund of knowledge to which she would never have confessed. “Jim always understood you far better than I did. And he likes you, too, better than any girl in Brookville.”
“Except Lydia,” amended Ellen.
“Oh, of course, except Lydia.”
There was a warm, flower-scented breeze stirring the heavy foliage drenched with the silver rain of moonlight, and the shrilling of innumerable small voices of the night. It all belonged; yet neither the man nor the woman noticed anything except each other; nor heard anything save the words the other uttered.
“To think that you love me, Lydia!” he said, triumph and humility curiously mingled in his voice.
“How could I help it, Jim? I could never have borne it all, if you—”
He looked down into her face which the moonlight had spiritualized to the likeness of an angel.