“And be teased and worried half out of your life by everybody you meet? Now, Lorne, you’re getting serious and sentimental, and you know I hate that. It isn’t any good either—Mother always used to say it made me more stubborn to appeal to me. Horrid nature to have, isn’t it?”
Lorne’s hand went to his waistcoat pocket and came back with a tiny packet. “It’s come, Dora—by this morning’s English mail.”
Her eyes sparkled, and then rested with guarded excitement upon the little case. “Oh, Lorne!”
She said nothing more, but watched intently while he found the spring, and disclosed the ring within. Then she drew a long breath. “Lorne Murchison, what a lovely one!”
“Doesn’t it look,” said he, “just a little serious and sentimental?”
“But such good style, too,” he declared, bending over it. “And quite new—I haven’t seen anything a bit like it. I do love a design when it’s graceful. Solitaires are so old-fashioned.”
He kept his eyes upon her face, feeding upon the delight in it. Exultation rose up in him: he knew the primitive guile of man, indifferent to such things, alluring with them the other creature. He did not stop to condone her weakness; rather he seized it in ecstasy; it was all part of the glad scheme to help the lover. He turned the diamonds so that they flashed and flashed again before her. Then, trusting his happy instinct, he sought for her hand. But she held that back. “I want to see it,” she declared, and he was obliged to let her take the ring in her own way and examine it, and place it in every light, and compare it with others worn by her friends, and make little tentative charges of extravagance in his purchase of it, while he sat elated and adoring, the simple fellow.
Reluctantly at last she gave up her hand. “But it’s only trying on—not putting on,” she told him. He said nothing till it flashed upon her finger, and in her eyes he saw a spark from below of that instinctive cupidity toward jewels that man can never recognize as it deserves in woman, because of his desire to gratify it.
“You’ll wear it, Dora?” he pleaded.
“Lorne, you are the dearest fellow! But how could I? Everybody would guess!”
Her gaze, nevertheless, rested fascinated on the ring, which she posed as it pleased her.
“Let them guess! I’d rather they knew, but—it does look well on your finger, dear.”
She held it up once more to the light, then slipped it decisively off and gave it back to him. “I can’t, you know, Lorne. I didn’t really say you might get it; and now you’ll have to keep it till—till the time comes. But this much I will say—it’s the sweetest thing, and you’ve shown the loveliest taste, and if it weren’t such a dreadful give-away I’d like to wear it awfully.”