The Ball and the Cross eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 236 pages of information about The Ball and the Cross.

“Really,” said the young lady, and laughed.

“I beg your pardon,” said the unhappy young man, rather wildly, “but what I mean is, why are you here in an asylum?”

The young woman broke again into one of the maddening and mysterious laughs of femininity.  Then she composed her features, and replied with equal dignity:  “Well, if it comes to that, why are you?”

The fact that Turnbull had strolled away and was investigating rhododendrons may have been due to Evan’s successful prayers to the other world, or possibly to his own pretty successful experience of this one.  But though they two were as isolated as a new Adam and Eve in a pretty ornamental Eden, the lady did not relax by an inch the rigour of her badinage.

“I am locked up in the madhouse,” said Evan, with a sort of stiff pride, “because I tried to keep my promise to you.”

“Quite so,” answered the inexplicable lady, nodding with a perfectly blazing smile, “and I am locked up because it was to me you promised.”

“It is outrageous!” cried Evan; “it is impossible!”

“Oh, you can see my certificate if you like,” she replied with some hauteur.

MacIan stared at her and then at his boots, and then at the sky and then at her again.  He was quite sure now that he himself was not mad, and the fact rather added to his perplexity.

Then he drew nearer to her, and said in a dry and dreadful voice:  “Oh, don’t condescend to play the fool with such a fool as me.  Are you really locked up here as a patient—­because you helped us to escape?”

“Yes,” she said, still smiling, but her steady voice had a shake in it.

Evan flung his big elbow across his forehead and burst into tears.

The pure lemon of the sky faded into purer white as the great sunset silently collapsed.  The birds settled back into the trees; the moon began to glow with its own light.  Mr. James Turnbull continued his botanical researches into the structure of the rhododendron.  But the lady did not move an inch until Evan had flung up his face again; and when he did he saw by the last gleam of sunlight that it was not only his face that was wet.

Mr. James Turnbull had all his life professed a profound interest in physical science, and the phenomena of a good garden were really a pleasure to him; but after three-quarters of an hour or so even the apostle of science began to find rhododendrus a bore, and was somewhat relieved when an unexpected development of events obliged him to transfer his researches to the equally interesting subject of hollyhocks, which grew some fifty feet farther along the path.  The ostensible cause of his removal was the unexpected reappearance of his two other acquaintances walking and talking laboriously along the way, with the black head bent close to the brown one.  Even hollyhocks detained Turnbull but a short time.  Having rapidly absorbed all the important principles affecting the

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The Ball and the Cross from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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