“Thank you. Now don’t hinder me any longer. Good-bye for to-day.”
Miriam moved towards the door.
“You are forgetting your gloves, Mrs. Baske,” he called after her.
She turned back and took them up.
“By-the-bye,” he said, looking at his watch, “it is the hour at which ladies are accustomed to drink tea. Will you let me make you a cup before you go?”
“Thank you. Perhaps I could save your time by making it myself.”
“A capital idea. Look, there is all the apparatus. Please to tell me when it is ready, and I’ll have a cup with you.”
He painted on, and neither spoke until the beverage was actually prepared. Then Miriam said:
“Will you come now, Mr. Mallard?”
He laid down his implements, and approached the table by which she stood.
“Do you understand,” he asked, “what is meant when one says of a man that he is a Bohemian?”
“I think so.”
“You know pretty well what may be fairly expected of him, and what must not be expected?”
“I believe so.”
“Do you think you could possibly share the home of such a man?”
“I think I could.”
“Then suppose you take off your hat and your mantle, or whatever it’s called, and make an experiment—see if you can feel at home here.”
She did so. Whilst laying the things aside, she heard him step up to her, till he was very close. Then she turned, and his arms were about her, and his heart beating against hers.
END AND BEGINNING
In the autumn of this year, Mrs. Lessingham died. Owing to slight ailments, she had been advised to order her life more restfully, and with a view to this she took a house at Richmond, where Mrs. Delph and Irene again came to live with her. Scarcely was the settlement effected, when grave illness fell upon her, the first she had suffered since girlhood. She resented it; her energies put themselves forth defiantly; two days before her death she had no suspicion of what was coming. Warned at length, she made her will, angrily declined spiritual comfort, and with indignation fought her fate to the verge of darkness.
Cecily and her husband arrived a few hours too late; when the telegram of summons reached them, they were in Denmark. The Spences attended the funeral. Mallard and Miriam, who were in the north of Scotland—they had been married some two months—did not come. By Mrs. Lessingham’s will, the greater part of her possessions fell to Cecily; there was a legacy of money to Irene Delph, and a London hospital for women received a bequest.
Eleanor wrote to Miriam: