“Why—for fun, and to make up. Haven’t you forgiven me yet?”
Edith did not reply directly. “I am going out with mamma to buy our dominoes for the Carnival, and to see our balcony. Albert has engaged one for us, on the corner of the Corso and Santa Maria e Jesu. I suppose you can go too. There will be an extra seat. We’ll come home by the Pincian Hill.”
“Thank you,” said Mae, “but I will get Eric and go for a tramp,” and she left the room with compressed lips and flushed cheeks. In the hall were Albert, Eric and Norman, talking busily. “Where are you going Eric, mayn’t I go too, please?” “I’m sorry Mae, but this is an entirely masculine affair—five-button gloves and parasols are out of the question.”
“O, Ric, I am half lonely.” Mae laughed a little hysterically. At that moment she caught Mr. Mann’s eyes, full of sympathy. “But goodbye,” she added, and opened the door, “I’m going.”
“Alone?” asked Norman, involuntarily.
“Yes, alone,” replied Mae. “Have you any objections, boys?” Eric and Albert were talking busily and did not hear her. Norman Mann held open the door for her to pass out, and smiled as she thanked him. She smiled back. She came very near saying, “I’m sorry I was rude the other day, forgive me,” and he came very near saying, “May I go with you, Miss Mae?” But they neither of them spoke, and Norman closed the door with a sigh, and Mae walked away with a sigh. It was only a little morning’s experience, sharp words, misunderstandings; but the child was young, far from home and her mother, and it seemed hard to her. She was in a very wild mood, a very hard mood, and yet all ready to be softened by a kind, sympathetic word, so nearly do extremes of emotion meet.
“There’s no one to care a pin about me,” said she to herself, “not a pin. I have a great mind to go and take the veil or drown myself in the Tiber. Then they would be bound to search for me, and convent vows and Tiber mud hold one fast. No, I won’t, I’ll go and sit in the Pincian gardens and talk Italian with the very first person I meet and forget all about myself. I wish Mr. Mann wouldn’t pity me. Dear me, here I am remembering these forlorn people again. I wish I could see mamma and home this morning,—the dear old library. Why the house is shut up and mamma’s south. I forgot that, and here am I all alone. It is like being dead. There, I have dropped a tear on my tie and spoiled it! Besides, if one is dead, there comes Heaven. Why shouldn’t I play dead, and make my own Heaven?” Here Mae seated herself, for she was on the Pincio by this time, and looked off at the view, at that wonderful view of St. Peter’s, the Tiber, all the domes and rising ruins and afar the campagna. “I wouldn’t make my Heaven here,” thought this dreadful Mae, “not if it is beautiful. I’d not stay here a single other day. Bah no!” and she shook her irreverent little fist right down at the Eternal City.