“How do you all do?” she cried, gleefully and bravely. “Isn’t there room for me in there? Mrs. Jerrold, I would like to introduce Signor—your name?”—she said, quite clearly, in Italian, turning to the officer.
“Bero,” he replied.
“Signor Bero. He was very kind, and saved me from—from a little beggar boy.”
“You must have been in peril, indeed,” remarked Mrs. Jerrold, bowing distantly to Bero, and beckoning the coachman, as Mae sprang into the carriage, to drive on. “I am sorry to put you on the box, Norman,” Mrs. Jerrold added, as Mae took the seat, in silence, that Mr. Mann had vacated for her, “and I hope Miss Mae is also.” But Mae didn’t hear this. She was plucking up courage in her heart, and assuming a saucy enough expression, that sat well on her bright face. Indeed, she was a pretty picture, as she sat erect, with lips and nostrils a trifle distended, and her head a little in the air. The Italian thought so, as he walked away, smiling softly, clicking his spurs and stroking his moustache; and Norman Mann thought so too, as he tapped his cane restlessly on the dash-board and scowled at the left ear of the off horse. The party preserved an amazed and stiff silence, as they drove homeward.
“Eric,” cried Norman, very late that same night. “Do be sober, I have something to say to you about Miss Mae.”
“Norman, old boy, how can a fellow of my make be sober when he has drunk four glasses of wine, waltzed fifteen times, and torn six flounces from a Paris dress? Why, man, I am delirious, I am. Tra, la, la, tra, la, la. Oh, Norman, if you could have heard that waltz,” and Eric seized his companion in his big arms and started about the room in a mad dance. “You are Miss Hopkins, Norman, you are. Here goes—” but Norman struck out a bold stroke that nearly staggered Eric and broke loose. “For Heaven’s sake, Eric, stop this fooling; I want to speak to you earnestly.”
“Evidently,” replied Eric, with excited face, “forcibly also. Blows belong after words, not before,” and the big boy tramped indignantly off to bed.
Norman Mann was in earnest truly, forcible also, for he opened his mouth to let out a very expressive word as Eric left the room. It did him good seemingly, for he strode up and down more quietly. At last he sat down and began to talk with himself. “Norman Mann, you’ve got to do it all alone,” he said. “Albert and Edith and Aunt Martha are too vexed and shocked to do the little rebel any good. Ric, oh, dear, Ric is a silly boy, God bless him, and here I am doomed to make that child hate me, and with no possible authority over her, or power, for that matter, trying to keep her from something terribly wild. If they don’t look out, she will break loose. I know her well, and there’s strong character under this storm a-top, if only some one could get at it. Damn it.” Norman grew forcible again. “Why can’t I keep my silly eyes away from her, and go off with