At that moment the city clock struck nine.
Mr. Benton left Paul, and crossing the street, took up his position beneath the window of his charmer, beginning to sing, in a thin, piping voice, as preconcerted between them—
“Ever of thee,
I’m fo-o-ondly dreaming.”
The song was destined never to be finished.
From his post in a doorway opposite, Paul saw the window softly open. He could distinguish a tall female figure, doubtless Miss Hawkins herself. She held in her hand a pitcher of water, which she emptied with well-directed aim full upon the small person of her luckless admirer.
The falling column struck upon his beaver, thence spreading on all sides. His carefully starched collar became instantly as limp as a rag, while his coat suffered severely from the shower.
His tuneful accents died away in dismay.
“Ow!” he exclaimed, jumping at least a yard, and involuntarily shaking himself like a dog, “who did that?”
There was no answer save a low, musical laugh from the window above, which was involuntarily echoed by Paul.
“What do you mean by laughing at me?” demanded Mr. Benton, smarting with mortification, as he strode across the street, trying to dry his hat with the help of his handkerchief, “Is this what you call friendship?”
“Excuse me,” gasped Paul, “but I really couldn’t help it.”
“I don’t see anything to laugh at,” continued Mr. Benton, in a resentful tone; “because I have been subjected to unmanly persecution, you must laugh at me, instead of extending to me the sympathy of a friend.”
“I suppose you won’t think of her any more,” said Paul, recovering himself.
“Think of her!” exclaimed Mr. Benton, “would you have me tear her from my heart, because her mercenary parent chooses to frown upon our love, and follow me with base persecution.”
“Yes, it was he who threw the water upon me. But it shall not avail,” the young man continued, folding his arms, and speaking in a tone of resolution, “bolts and bars shall not keep two loving hearts asunder.”
“But it wasn’t her father,” urged Paul, perceiving that Mr. Benton was under a mistake.
“Who was it, then?”
“It was the young lady herself.”
“Who threw the water upon me? It is a base slander.”
“But I saw her.”
“A tall young lady with black hair.”
“And was it she who threw the water?” asked Mr. Benton, aghast at this unexpected revelation.
“Then she did it at the command of her proud parent.”
Paul did not dispute this, since it seemed to comfort Mr. Benton. It is doubtful, however, whether the young man believed it himself, since he straightway fell into a fit of gloomy abstraction, and made no response when Paul bade him “good-night.”