“With this rose pressed between the leaves, so you’ll know.”
“That would, be very pretty. But you must take me to Mrs. Bevidge, now, if you can.”
“I guess I can,” said Jeff; and in a minute or two they stood before the matronizing hostess, after a passage through the babbling and laughing groups that looked as impossible after they had made it as it looked before.
Mrs. Bevidge gave the girl’s hand a pressure distinct from the official touch of parting, and contrived to say, for her hearing alone: “Thank you so much, Bessie. You’ve done missionary work.”
“I shouldn’t call it that.”
“It will do for you to say so! He wasn’t really so bad, then? Thank you again, dear!”
Jeff had waited his turn. But now, after the girl had turned away, as if she had forgotten him, his eyes followed her, and he did not know that Mrs. Bevidge was speaking to him. Miss Lynde had slimly lost herself in the mass, till she was only a graceful tilt of hat, before she turned with a distraught air. When her eyes met Jeff’s they lighted up with a look that comes into the face when one remembers what one has been trying to think of. She gave him a brilliant smile that seemed to illumine him from head to foot, and before it was quenched he felt as if she had kissed her hand to him from her rich mouth.
Then he heard Mrs. Bevidge asking something about a hall, and he was aware of her bending upon him a look of the daring humanity that had carried her triumphantly through her good works at the North End.
“Oh, I’m not in the Yard,” said Jeff, with belated intelligence.
“Then will just Cambridge reach you?”
He gave his number and street, and she thanked him with the benevolence that availed so much with the lower classes. He went away thrilling and tingling, with that girl’s tones in his ear, her motions in his nerves, and the colors of her face filling his sight, which he printed on the air whenever he turned, as one does with a vivid light after looking at it.
When Jeff reached his room he felt the need of writing to Cynthia, with whatever obscure intention of atonement. He told her of the college tea he had just come from, and made fun of it, and the kind of people he had met, especially the affected girl who had tried to rattle him; he said he guessed she did not think she had rattled him a great deal.
While he wrote he kept thinking how this Miss Lynde was nearer his early ideal of fashion, of high life, which Westover had pretty well snubbed out of him, than any woman he had seen yet; she seemed a girl who would do what she pleased, and would not be afraid if it did not please other people. He liked her having tried to rattle him, and he smiled to himself in recalling her failure. It was as if she had laid hold of him with her little hands to shake him,