“I can’t remember. But there was something they danced—to show how a rheumatic old coloured uncle dances.”
He jumped nimbly up, and sketched the stiff and limping figure he had seen. It was over in a flash. He dropped down again, laughing.
“Oh, how wonderfully good!” cried Mrs. Brinkley, with frank joy. “Do it again.”
“Encore! Oh, encore!” came from the people on the beach.
Mavering jumped to his feet, and burlesqued the profuse bows of an actor who refuses to repeat; he was about to drop down again amidst their wails of protest.
“No, don’t sit down, Mr. Mavering,” said the lady who had introduced the subject of ham. “Get some of the young ladies, and go and gather some blueberries for the dessert. There are all the necessaries of life here, but none of the luxuries.”
“I’m at the service of the young ladies as an escort,” said Mavering gallantly, with an infusion of joke. “Will you come and pick blueberries under my watchful eyes, Miss Pasmer?”
“They’ve gone to pick blueberries,” called the lady through her tubed hand to the people on the beach, and the younger among them scrambled up the rocks for cups and bowls to follow them.
Mrs. Pasmer had an impulse to call her daughter back, and to make some excuse to keep her from going. She was in an access of decorum, naturally following upon her late outbreak, and it seemed a very pronounced thing for Alice to be going off into the woods with the young man; but it would have been a pronounced thing to prevent her, and so Mrs. Pasmer submitted.
“Isn’t it delightful,” asked Mrs. Brinkley, following them with her eyes, “to see the charm that gay young fellow has for that serious girl? She looked at him while he was dancing as if she couldn’t take her eyes off him, and she followed him as if he drew her by an invisible spell. Not that spells are ever visible,” she added, saving herself. “Though this one seems to be,” she added further, again saving herself.
“Do you really think so?” pleaded Miss Cotton.
“Well, I say so, whatever I think. And I’m not going to be caught up on the tenter-hooks of conscience as to all my meanings, Miss Cotton. I don’t know them all. But I’m not one of the Aliceolaters, you know.”
“No; of course not. But shouldn’t you—Don’t you think it would be a great pity—She’s so superior, so very uncommon in every way, that it hardly seems—Ah, I should so like to see some one really fine—not a coarse fibre in him, don’t you know. Not that Mr. Mavering’s coarse. But beside her he does seem so light!”
“Perhaps that’s the reason she likes him.”
“No, no! I can’t believe that. She must see more in him than we can.”
“I dare say she thinks she does. At any rate, it’s a perfectly evident case on both sides; and the frank way he’s followed her up here, and devoted himself to her, as if—well, not as if she were the only girl in the world, but incomparably the best—is certainly not common.”