“Mrs. Durgin?” Westover found that he had been leaving her out of the account, and had been thinking only of Cynthia’s pleasure or pain. “Well, I don’t suppose—it would be rather fatiguing—Did Jeff want her to come too?”
“He said so.”
“That’s very nice of him. If he could devote himself to her; but—And would she like to go?”
“To please him, she would.” Westover was silent, and the girl surprised him by the appeal she suddenly made to him. “Mr. Westover, do you believe it would be very well for either of us to go? I think it would be better for us to leave all that part of his life alone. It’s no use in pretending that we’re like the kind of people he knows, or that we know their ways, and I don’t believe—”
Westover felt his heart rise in indignant sympathy. “There isn’t any one he knows to compare with you!” he said, and in this he was thinking mainly of Bessie Lynde. “You’re worth a thousand—If I were—if he’s half a man he would be proud—I beg your pardon! I don’t mean—but you understand—”
Cynthia put her head far out of the window and looked along the steep roof before them. “There is a blind off one of the windows. I heard it clapping in the wind the other night. I must go and see the number of the room.” She drew her head in quickly and ran away without letting him see her face.
He followed her. “Let me help you put it on again!”
“No, no!” she called back. “Frank will do that, or Jombateeste, when they come to shut up the house.”
Westover, did not meet Durgin for several days after his return from Lion’s Head. He brought messages for him from his mother and from Whitwell, and he waited for him to come and get them so long that he had to blame himself for not sending them to him. When Jeff appeared, at the end of a week, Westover had a certain embarrassment in meeting him, and the effort to overcome this carried him beyond his sincerity. He was aware of feigning the cordiality he showed, and of having less real liking for him than ever before. He suggested that he must be busier every day, now, with his college work, and he resented the air of social prosperity which Jeff put on in saying, Yes, there was that, and then he had some engagements which kept him from coming in sooner.
He did not say what the engagements were, and they did not recur to the things they had last spoken of. Westover could not do so without Jeff’s leading, and he was rather glad that he gave none. He stayed only a little time, which was spent mostly in a show of interest on both sides, and the hollow hilarities which people use to mask their indifference to one another’s being and doing. Jeff declared that he had never seen Westover looking so well, and said he must go up to Lion’s Head again; it had done him good. As for his picture, it was a corker; it made him feel as if he were there! He asked about all the folks, and received Westover’s replies with vague laughter, and an absence in his bold eye, which made the painter wonder what his mind was on, without the wish to find out. He was glad to have him go, though he pressed him to drop in soon again, and said they would take in a play together.