“Miss Pasmer, I feel it my duty to warn you that you’re letting me go home with you.”
“Am I? How noble of you to tell me, Dan; for I know you don’t want to tell. Well, I might as well. But I sha’n’t let you come in. You won’t try, will you? Promise me you won’t try.”
“I shall only want to come in the first door.”
“What for? Oh, for half a second.”
She turned away her face.
He went on. “This engagement has been such a very public affair, so far, that I think I’d like to see my fiancee alone for a moment.”
“I don’t know what in the world you can have to say more.”
He went into the first door with her, and then he went with her upstairs to the door of Mrs. Pasmer’s apartment. The passages of the Cavendish were not well lighted; the little lane or alley that led down to this door from the stairs landing was very dim.
“So dark here!” murmured Alice, in a low voice, somewhat tremulous.
“But not too dark.”
She burst into the room where her mother sat looking over some housekeeping accounts. His kiss and his name were upon her lips; her soul was full of him.
“Mamma!” she panted.
Her mother did not look round. She could have had no premonition of the vital news that her daughter was bringing, and she went on comparing the first autumn month’s provision bill with that of the last spring month, and trying to account for the difference.
The silence, broken by the rattling of the two bills in her mother’s hands as she glanced from one to the other through her glasses, seemed suddenly impenetrable, and the prismatic world of the girl’s rapture burst like a bubble against it. There is no explanation of the effect outside of temperament and overwrought sensibilities. She stared across the room at her mother, who had not heard her, and then she broke into a storm of tears.
“Alice!” cried her mother, with that sanative anger which comes to rescue women from the terror of any sudden shock. “What is the matter with you?—what do you mean?” She dropped both of the provision bills to the floor, and started toward her daughter.
“Nothing—nothing! Let me go. I want to go to my room.” She tried to reach the door beyond her mother.
“Indeed you shall not!” cried Mrs. Pasmer. “I will not have you behaving so! What has happened to you? Tell me. You have frightened me half out of my senses.”
The girl gave up her efforts to escape, and flung herself on the sofa, with her face in the pillow, where she continued to sob. Her mother began to relent at the sight of her passion. As a woman and as a mother she knew her daughter, and she knew that this passion, whatever it was, must have vent before there could be anything intelligible between them. She did not press her with further question, but set about making her a little more comfortable on the sofa; she pulled the pillow straight, and dropped a light shawl over the girl’s shoulders, so that she should not take cold.