“Are you going to scold me?” he asked.
“I am,” she said. “I am going to take you out and push you into the deepest part of the lake. I’m so disappointed. Why, John, for the first time in my life I’ve selected a girl for you, the very most suitable girl I ever saw, and I hoped and hoped for three days that when you came you’d like her. Of course I wasn’t so rash as to say a word to her! But I’ve thought myself into a state where I’m going to be sick with disappointment.”
“But wait, Mother, wait until I can manage to meet the girl I’ve seen. Wait until I have a chance to show her to you!” he begged.
“I suppose I shall be forced,” she said. “I’ve always dreaded it, now here it comes. Oh, why couldn’t it have been Kate? Why did she go to that silly concert? If only I’d kept her here, and we’d walked down to the station. I’d half a mind to!”
Then the door opened, and Kate stepped into the room. She stood still, looking at them. John Jardine stood up, looking at her. His mother sat staring at them in turn. Kate recovered first.
“Please excuse me,” she said.
She laid the letters on a small table and turned to go. John caught his mother’s hand closer, when he found himself holding it.
“If you know the young lady, Mother,” he said, “why don’t you introduce us?”
“Oh, I was so bewildered by your coming,” she said. “Kate, dear, let me present my son.”
Kate crossed the room, and looking straight into each other’s eyes they shook hands and found chairs.
“How was your concert, my dear?” asked Mrs. Jardine.
“I don’t think it was very good,” said Kate. “Not at all up to my expectations. How did you like it, Mr. Jardine?”
“Was that a concert?” he asked.
“It was supposed to be,” said Kate.
“Thank you for the information,” he said. “I didn’t see it, I didn’t hear it, I don’t know where I was.”
“This is most astonishing,” said Kate.
Mrs. Jardine looked at her son, her eyes two big imperative question marks. He nodded slightly.
“My soul!” she cried, then lay back in her chair half-laughing, half-crying, until Kate feared she might have another attack of heart trouble.
JOHN JARDINE’S COURTSHIP
The following morning they breakfasted together under the branches of the big maple tree in a beautiful world. Mrs. Jardine was so happy she could only taste a bite now and then, when urged to. Kate was trying to keep her head level, and be natural. John Jardine wanted to think of everything, and succeeded fairly well. It seemed to Kate that he could invent more ways to spend money, and spend it with freer hand, than any man she ever had heard of, but she had to confess that the men she had heard about were concerned with keeping their money, not scattering it.