The girl burst into a lovely peal of laughter. “Exactly what I thought all the time,” said she. “I wanted to buy them; you don’t know how much; but it was like buying rabbits, and white elephants, and—oh, I don’t know! a perfect menagerie of things I couldn’t bear to live with, and I didn’t see how I could give them away, and I couldn’t think of a place to throw them away.” She laughed again.
Jim stopped suddenly. “Say.”
“Why, it will be an awful piece of work to pack off all those contraptions, and it strikes me it is pretty hard on the missionaries. There’s a gravel pit down back of the Bolton place, and if you buy it—”
“Well, bury the fair there.”
Lydia stopped short, and laughed till she cried. “You don’t suppose they would ever find out?”
“Trust me. You just have the whole lot moved into the house, and we’ll fix it up.”
“Oh, I can’t tell you how thankful I am to you,” said Lydia fervently. “I felt like a nightmare with all those things. Some of them can be used of course, but some—oh, those picture throws, and those postage stamp plates!”
“They are funny, but sort of pitiful, too,” said Jim. “Women are sort of pitiful, lots of them. I’m glad I am a man.”
“I should think you would be,” said the girl. She looked up in his face with an expression which he did not see. He was regarding women in the abstract; she was suddenly regarding men in the individual.
Elliot slept later than usual the morning after the fair. Generally he slept the beautiful, undisturbed sleep of the young and healthy; that night, for some reason, he did not. Possibly the strange break which the buying of the fair had made in the course of his everyday life caused one also between his conscious and unconscious state, which his brain refused to bridge readily. Wesley had not been brought face to face, many times in his life, with the unprecedented. He had been brought before it, although in a limited fashion, at the church fair. The unprecedented is more or less shattering, partaking of the nature of a spiritual bomb. Lydia Orr’s mad purchase of that collection of things called a fair disturbed his sense of values. He asked himself over and over who was this girl? More earnestly he asked himself what her motives could be.
But the question which most agitated him was his relations with the girl, Fanny Dodge. He realized that recently he had approached the verge of an emotional crisis. If Mrs. Black whom he had at the time fairly cursed in his heart, in spite of his profession, had not appeared with her notice of dinner, he would be in a most unpleasant predicament. Only the girl’s innate good sense could have served as a refuge, and he reflected with the utmost tenderness that he might confidently rely upon that. He was almost sure that the poor girl loved him.