“There is no dog,” he answered, not looking at her. “I—I saw you wanted to get away for a minute. You will forgive me, won’t you?”
Vera looked at him with a sudden earnestness. The watchfulness which had seen her distress, the ready tact which had guessed at her desire to escape, and had so promptly suggested the manner of it, touched her suddenly. She put forth her hand gently and almost timidly.
“Thank you,” she said, simply. “I did not imagine you were so clever—or so kind.”
The boy blushed deeply with pleasure. He did not know her trouble, but the keen eye of love had guessed at its existence. It had been easy for him who watched her every look, who knew every shade and every line of her face, to tell that she was in distress, to interpret her pallor and her trembling terror aright.
“You don’t want to go back?” he asked.
“Oh, no, I cannot go back! Besides, I am tired; it is time to go home.”
“Stay here, then, and I will call Mrs. Hazeldine.”
He left her standing alone upon the grass, and went back to the crowded path. Presently he returned with her friend.
“My dear Vera, what is the matter? The boy says you have such a headache! I am so sorry, and I wouldn’t let any of those chattering fools come back to lunch. Why, you look quite pale, child! Will it be too much for you to have the boy, because we will send him away, too, if you like?”
But Vera turned round and smiled upon the boy.
“Oh, no, let him come, certainly; but let us go home, all three of us at once, if you don’t mind.”
The thoughtfulness that had kept her secret for her, even from the eyes of the woman who was supposed to be her intimate friend, surely deserved its reward.
They walked home slowly together across the park, and, when Vera came down to luncheon, a white gardenia had somehow or other found its way to the bosom of her dress.
That was Denis Wilde’s reward.
Youth is a blunder; manhood a struggle; old age a regret.
B. Disraeli, “Coningsby.”
Two or three days later the east wind was still blowing, and the chilled sunshine still feebly shining down upon the nipped lilac and laburnum blossoms. The garden at Walpole Lodge was shorn of half its customary beauty, yet to Helen Romer, pacing slowly up and down its gravel walks, it had never possibly presented a fairer appearance. For Mrs. Romer had won her battle. All that she had waited for so long and striven for so hard was at length within her grasp. Her grandfather was dead, his money had been all left to her, her engagement to Captain Kynaston was an acknowledged fact, and she herself was staying as an honoured and welcome guest in her future mother-in-law’s house. Everything in the present and the future seemed to smile upon her, and yet there were drawbacks—as are there not in most earthly delights?—to the full enjoyment of her happiness.