“It needn’t stay in my buttonhole. I know lots of other places!” he begged.
Dora considered the pansy again, then she pulled it slowly out, and the young man got up and went over to her, proffering the lapel of his coat.
“It spoils the bunch,” she said prettily. “If I give you this you will have to give me something to take its place.”
“I will,” said Lorne.
“I know it will be something better,” said Dora, and there was a little effort in her composure. “You send people such beautiful flowers, Lorne.”
She rose beside him as she spoke, graceful and fair, to fasten it in; and it was his hand that shook.
“Then may I choose it?” said Lorne. “And will you wear it?”
“I suppose you may. Why are you—why do you—Oh, Lorne, stand still!”
“I’ll give you, you sweet girl, my whole heart!” he said in the vague tender knowledge that he offered her a garden, where she had but to walk, and smile, to bring about her unimaginable blooms.
They sat talking on the verandah in the close of the May evening, Mr and Mrs Murchison. The Plummer Place was the Murchison Place in the town’s mouth now, and that was only fair; the Murchisons had overstamped the Plummers. It lay about them like a map of their lives: the big horse chestnut stood again in flower to lighten the spring dusk for them, as it had done faithfully for thirty years. John was no longer in his shirt-sleeves; the growing authority of his family had long prescribed a black alpaca coat. He smoked his meerschaum with the same old deliberation, however, holding it by the bowl as considerately as he held its original, which lasted him fifteen years. A great deal of John Murchison’s character was there, in the way he held his pipe, his gentleness and patience, even the justice and repose and quiet strength of his nature. He smoked and read the paper the unfailing double solace of his evenings. I should have said that it was Mrs Murchison who talked. She had the advantage of a free mind, only subconsciously occupied with her white wool and agile needles; and John had frequently to choose between her observations and the politics of the day.
“You saw Lorne’s letter this morning, Father?”
John took his pipe out of his mouth. “Yes,” he said.
“He seems tremendously taken up with Wallingham. It was all Wallingham, from one end to the other.”
“It’s not remarkable,” said John Murchison, patiently.
“You’d think he had nothing else to write about. There was that reception at Lord What-you-may-call-him’s, the Canadian Commissioner’s, when the Prince and Princess of Wales came, and brought their family. I’d like to have heard something more about that than just that he was there. He might have noticed what the children had on. Now that Abby’s family is coming about her I seem to have my hands as full of children’s clothes as ever I had. Abby seems to think there’s nothing like my old patterns; I’m sure I’m sick of the sight of them!”