Are you satisfied now? I don’t know whether I mentioned it, but she hasn’t actually said “yes” yet. She had certain objections, or rather a certain objection which I found it necessary to meet in a— a somewhat regrettable manner. I was compelled to adopt strategy. She thought our proposed contract (we do things in a business manner) might not be quite fair to me. She was ready to admit that I was getting a good thing in secretaries but she feared that, later on, I might wish to make a change. I had to meet this scruple somehow and I seemed to know by instinct that she would not believe me if I expounded those theories of love and marriage which you know I so strongly hold. Pure reason would not appeal to her. So I had to fall back upon sentiment. Instead of saying, “I shall never love. It is impossible,” I said, “I have loved. It is over.”
Sound tactics, don’t you think? . . . Well I don’t care what you think! I have to get this girl safely placed somehow.
We shall have to elope probably. Fancy, an elopement at thirty-five! The father seems to consider her continued presence here as vital to his interest, though why, neither of us can understand. Well, I’m not exactly afraid of the old chap but it will certainly be easier for her if there are no wild farewells. Therefore we shall probably fold our tent like the Arabs and steal away as silently as the “Tillicum” will allow.
Li Ho will have to be told. He will know anyway, so we may as well tell him. It appears that whatever may be the reasons for keeping a young girl buried here, they do not extend to Li Ho. It will not be the first time that his Chinese inscrutability has assisted at a (temporary) departure.
I shall let Aunt Caroline know as soon as the act is irrevocable and shall inform you at the same time so that you may not be unprepared. You realize, I suppose, that you will be accused of being accessory? Didn’t you tell me that a trip would do me good?
We shall not come home for a few weeks. My secretary has spoken of an old Indian whom she knows, a perfect mine of simon-pure folk-lore. He lives some-where up the coast, about a day’s journey, I think. We may visit him. With her to interpret for me, I may get some very valuable notes. I may add that we are both very keen on notes. When we have done what can be done out here, we shall come home. The fall and winter we shall spend upon the book. My secretary will insist upon attending to business first. And then—well, then she wants to go shopping. So we shall have to go where the good shops are.
What does she wish to buy? Oh, not much—just life, the assorted kind.
B. H. S.
It was the day before Friday. Friday, so very near, seemed already palpably present in the surcharged air of the cottage. No one mentioned it, but that made its nearness more potent. At his usual hour for dictation, Professor Spence had come out upon the narrow veranda. But, although his secretary was there, pencil in hand, he had not dictated. Instead he had sat contemplating Friday so long that his secretary tapped her foot in impatience.