“If you could wipe your face—–” Harriet murmured, offering a handkerchief. He declined it, but snatched out his own, and distributed the dirt on his face somewhat more evenly. “Come on— come on, be a sport!” he said. But perhaps he was as much surprised as delighted when she very simply stepped into the low front seat. There was a friendly nearness of her fresh white ruffles, and a thrilling fragrance and sweetness and youngness about her this afternoon that was new. Miss Field always, in Ward’s simple vocabulary, had been a “corker.” But now he gave her more than one sidewise glance as they went dipping smoothly up and down through the green lanes, and said to himself, “Gosh—when she crinkles those blue eyes of hers, and her mouth sort of twitches as if she wanted to laugh, she is a beauty—that’s what she is!”
And dressing for dinner, some time later, he found himself stopping short, once or twice, with his tie dangling in his hand, or his brushes aimlessly suspended, while he calculated the chances of encountering her again—in the pantry, in one of the hallways, in the side garden, where she often went, at about twilight, with a book.
About a week later they met for a few moments in this very side garden. It was early evening, and twilight and moonlight were mingled over the silent roses, and the trimmed turf, and the low brick walls. The birds had long gone to bed, and the first dews were bringing out a thousand delicious odours of summer-time. Harriet’s white gown and white shoes made her a soft glimmering in the tender darkness; Ward was in informal dinner clothes, with the shine of dampness still on his sleek hair, and the pleasant freshness of his scarcely finished toilet still about him.
They came straight toward each other, and stood very close together, and he took both of Harriet’s hands.
“Now, what is it—what is it?” the man said, quickly. “I’ve been waiting long enough. I can’t stand it any longer! I can’t go away to-morrow, perhaps for two weeks, and not know!” “Ward,” the girl faltered, lifting an exquisite face that wore, even in the faint moonshine, a troubled and intense expression, “can’t we let it all wait until you get back?”
“I’ll keep my mouth shut, nobody suspects us, if that’s what you mean!” he answered, impatiently. “But—why, Harriet,” and his arm went about her shoulders, and he bent his face over hers, “Harriet, why not let me go happy?” he pleaded.
“You’ll see a dozen younger girls at the Bellamys’ camp,” Harriet reasoned, “girls with whom it would be infinitely more suitable—”
“Please!” he interrupted, patiently. And almost touching her warm, smooth cheek with his own, and coming so close that to raise her beautiful eyes was to find his only a few inches away, he added, fervently, “You love me and I love you—isn’t that all that matters?”