“They are dead.”
He nodded. “I know. He told me. But I’d forgot—for a minute. They been dead long?”
“Two years. It was before I came away—at home, in Russia. We were all coming—father and mother and I, and my brother. Then they died; but I wanted to be free.” She had flung out her arms with a light movement.
“It’s a dretful good place to get away from,” said Uncle William. “Nice folks come from there, too. I never saw one that wa’n’t glad to come,” he added.
She smiled. “I was glad; and I am glad I came here. It has been hard—a little—but I found Alan.” Her voice sang.
“Some folks would say that was the wust of it,” said Uncle William. “You found him and he fell sick, and you had him to take care on—cross as two sticks some of the time.” He regarded her mildly.
“You don’t think so,” she said.
“Well, mebbe not, mebbe not,” responded Uncle William. “I’m sort o’ queer, perhaps.”
She had turned to him half wistfully. “Don’t you think I might see him—just a little while?”
Uncle William shook his head. “You’ve been too good to him. That’s the wust of wimmen folks. What he needs now is a tonic—suthin’ kind o’ bitter.” He chuckled. “He’s got me.”
She smiled. “When are you going to take him away?”
She started. “It is very soon,” she said softly.
“Sooner the better,” said Uncle William. “It’ll do us both good to smell the sea.” He pulled out the great watch. “Must be ’most time to be startin’.” He peered at it uncertainly.
“Yes, we must go.” She rose and brought her hat, a fragile thing of lace and mist, and a little lace mantle with long floating ends. She put them on before the mirror that hung above the table where the copying lay, giving little turns and touches of feminine pleasure.
Uncle William’s eyes followed her good-humoredly.
She turned to him, her face glowing, starlike, out of the lace and mist. “You’re laughing at me,” she said, reproachfully.
“No, I wa’n’t laughing, so to speak,” returned Uncle William. “I was thinkin’ what a sight o’ comfort there is in a bunnit. If men folks wore ’em I reckon they’d take life easier.” He placed his hat firmly on the gray tufts. “That’s one o’ the cur’us things—about ’em.” They were going down the long flight of stairs and he had placed his hand protectingly beneath her arm. “That’s one o’ the cur’us things—how different they be, men and women. I’ve thought about it a good many times, how it must ‘a’ tickled the Lord a good deal when he found how different they turned out—made o’ the same kind o’ stuff, so.”
“Don’t you suppose he meant it?” She was smiling under the frilling lace.
“Well, like enough,” returned Uncle William, thoughtfully. “It’s like the rest o’ the world—kind o’ comical and big. Like enough he did plan it that way.”