I am writing to Aunt Caroline, briefly, that I am immersed in study and that my return is indefinite. Don’t, for heaven’s sake, let her suspect that I have employed Miss Farr as secretary. You know Aunt Caroline’s failing. Do be discreet!
B. H. S.
P.S.: Any arrangement I may find it necessary
to propose in Miss
Farr’s case will be based on business, not sentiment. B.
Desire was seated upon a moss-covered rock, hugging her knees and gazing out to sea. It was her favorite attitude and, according to Professor Spence, a very dangerous one, especially in connection with a moss-covered rock. He would have liked to point out this obvious fact but that would have been fussy—and fussy the professor was firmly determined not to be. Aunt Caroline was fussy. The best he could do was to select another rock, not so slippery, and to provide an object lesson as to the proper way of sitting upon it. Unfortunately, Desire was not looking. They had come a little way “up trail”—at least Desire had said it was a little way, and her companion was too proud of his recovered powers of locomotion to express unkind doubt of the adjective. There had been no rainy days for a week. The air was sun-soaked, and salt-soaked, and somewhere there was a wind. But not here. Here some high rock angle shut it out and left them to the drowsy calm of wakening Summer. Below them lay the blue-green gulf, white-flecked and gently heaving; above them bent a sky which only Italy could rival—and if Miss Farr with her hands clasped round her knees were to move ever so little, either way, there was nothing to prevent her from falling off the face of the mountain. The professor tried not to let this reflection spoil his enjoyment of the view. He reminded him-self that she was probably much safer than she looked. And he remembered Aunt Caroline. Still—
“Don’t you think you might sit a little farther back?” he suggested carelessly.
“I can’t talk to the back of your head.”
“Talk!” dreamily, “do you really have to talk?”
Naturally the professor was silent.
“That’s rude, I suppose,” said Desire, suddenly swinging round (a feat which brought Spence’s heart into his mouth). “I don’t seem to acquire the social graces very rapidly, do I?”
“I thought,” the professor’s tone was somewhat stiff, “that we came up here for the express purpose of talking.”
“Y-es. You did express some such purpose. But—must we? It won’t do any good, you know.”
“I don’t know. And it will do good. One can’t get anywhere without proper discussion.”
The girl sighed. “Very well—let’s discuss. You begin.”
“My month,” said Spence firmly, “is almost up. I shall have to move along on Friday.”
“On Friday?” If he had intended to startle her, he had certainly succeeded. “Was—was the arrangement only for a month?” she asked in a lowered voice.