“And look, there’s a nasty patch of something just on your shoulder.”
“Ah, that’s japanning; it rubbed off the clamps of poor Jack’s coffin when we lowered him from our shoulders upon the bier! I don’t care about that, for ’twas the last deed I could do for him; and ’tis hard if you can’t afford a coat for an old friend.”
Fancy put her hand to her mouth for half a minute. Underneath the palm of that little hand there existed for that half-minute a little yawn.
“Dick, I don’t like you to stand there in the wet. And you mustn’t sit down. Go home and change your things. Don’t stay another minute.”
“One kiss after coming so far,” he pleaded.
“If I can reach, then.”
He looked rather disappointed at not being invited round to the door. She twisted from her seated position and bent herself downwards, but not even by standing on the plinth was it possible for Dick to get his lips into contact with hers as she held them. By great exertion she might have reached a little lower; but then she would have exposed her head to the rain.
“Never mind, Dick; kiss my hand,” she said, flinging it down to him. “Now, good-bye.”
He walked slowly away, turning and turning again to look at her till he was out of sight. During the retreat she said to herself, almost involuntarily, and still conscious of that morning’s triumph—“I like Dick, and I love him; but how plain and sorry a man looks in the rain, with no umbrella, and wet through!”
As he vanished, she made as if to descend from her seat; but glancing in the other direction she saw another form coming along the same track. It was also that of a man. He, too, was in black from top to toe; but he carried an umbrella.
He drew nearer, and the direction of the rain caused him so to slant his umbrella that from her height above the ground his head was invisible, as she was also to him. He passed in due time directly beneath her, and in looking down upon the exterior of his umbrella her feminine eyes perceived it to be of superior silk—less common at that date than since—and of elegant make. He reached the entrance to the building, and Fancy suddenly lost sight of him. Instead of pursuing the roadway as Dick had done he had turned sharply round into her own porch.
She jumped to the floor, hastily flung off her shawl and bonnet, smoothed and patted her hair till the curls hung in passable condition, and listened. No knock. Nearly a minute passed, and still there was no knock. Then there arose a soft series of raps, no louder than the tapping of a distant woodpecker, and barely distinct enough to reach her ears. She composed herself and flung open the door.
In the porch stood Mr. Maybold.
There was a warm flush upon his face, and a bright flash in his eyes, which made him look handsomer than she had ever seen him before.