“Yes, but you see how my divinity could be improved,” said Bessie, with a wild laugh. “I’m not sentimental, but I’m emotional, and he gives me emotions. He’s a riddle, and I’m all the time guessing at him. You get the answer to the kind of men we know easily; and it’s very nice, but it doesn’t amuse you so much as trying. Now, Mr. Durgin—what a name! I can see it makes you creep—is no more like one of us than a—bear is—and his attitude toward us is that of a bear who’s gone so much with human beings that he thinks he’s a human being. He’s delightful, that way. And, do you know, he’s intellectual! He actually brings me books, and wants to read passages to me out of them! He has brought me the plans of the new hotel he’s going to build. It’s to be very aesthetic, and it’s going to be called The Lion’s Head Inn. There’s to be a little theatre, for amateur dramatics, which I could conduct, and for all sorts of professional amusements. If you should ever come, Molly, I’m sure we shall do our best to make you comfortable.”
Mary Enderby would not let Bessie laugh upon her shoulder after she said this. “Bessie Lynde,” she said, severely, “if you have no regard for yourself, you ought to have some regard for him. You may say you are not encouraging him, and you may believe it—”
“Oh, I shouldn’t say it if I didn’t believe it,” Bessie broke in, with a mock air of seriousness.
“I must be going,” said Mary, stiffly, and this time she succeeded in getting to her feet.
Bessie laid hold of her again. “You think you’ve been trifled with, don’t you, dear?”
“Yes, you do! Don’t you try to be slippery, Molly. The plain pikestaff is your style, morally speaking—if any one knows what a pikestaff is. Well, now, listen! You’re anxious about me.”
“You know how I feel, Bessie,” said Mary Enderby, looking her in the eyes.
“Yes, I do,” said Bessie. “The trouble is, I don’t know how I feel. But if I ever do, Molly, I’ll tell you! Is that fair?”
“I’ll give you ample warning. At the least little consciousness in the region of the pericardium, off will go a note by a district messenger, and when you come I’ll do whatever you say. There!”
“Oh, Bessie!” cried her friend, and she threw her arms round her, “you always were the most fascinating creature in the world!”
“Yes,” said Bessie, “that’s what I try to have him think.”
Toward the end of April most people who had places at the Shore were mostly in them, but they came up to town on frequent errands, and had one effect of evanescence with people who still remained in their Boston houses provisionally, and seemed more than half absent. The Enderbys had been at the Shore for a fortnight, and the Lyndes were going to be a fortnight longer in Boston, yet, as Bessie made her friend observe, when Mary, ran in for lunch, or stopped for a moment on her way to the train, every few days, they were both of the same transitory quality.