Rosemary was sitting pensively on the maple seat where John Meredith had been sitting on that evening nearly a year ago. The tiny spring shimmered and dimpled under its fringe of ferns. Ruby-red gleams of sunset fell through the arching boughs. A tall clump of perfect asters grew at her side. The little spot was as dreamy and witching and evasive as any retreat of fairies and dryads in ancient forests. Into it Norman Douglas bounced, scattering and annihilating its charm in a moment. His personality seemed to swallow the place up. There was simply nothing there but Norman Douglas, big, red-bearded, complacent.
“Good evening,” said Rosemary coldly, standing up.
“’Evening, girl. Sit down again—sit down again. I want to have a talk with you. Bless the girl, what’s she looking at me like that for? I don’t want to eat you—I’ve had my supper. Sit down and be civil.”
“I can hear what you have to say quite as well here,” said Rosemary.
“So you can, girl, if you use your ears. I only wanted you to be comfortable. You look so durned uncomfortable, standing there. Well, I’LL sit anyway.”
Norman accordingly sat down in the very place John Meredith had once sat. The contrast was so ludicrous that Rosemary was afraid she would go off into a peal of hysterical laughter over it. Norman cast his hat aside, placed his huge, red hands on his knees, and looked up at her with his eyes a-twinkle.
“Come, girl, don’t be so stiff,” he said, ingratiatingly. When he liked he could be very ingratiating. “Let’s have a reasonable, sensible, friendly chat. There’s something I want to ask you. Ellen says she won’t, so it’s up to me to do it.”
Rosemary looked down at the spring, which seemed to have shrunk to the size of a dewdrop. Norman gazed at her in despair.
“Durn it all, you might help a fellow out a bit,” he burst forth.
“What is it you want me to help you say?” asked Rosemary scornfully.
“You know as well as I do, girl. Don’t be putting on your tragedy airs. No wonder Ellen was scared to ask you. Look here, girl, Ellen and I want to marry each other. That’s plain English, isn’t it? Got that? And Ellen says she can’t unless you give her back some tom-fool promise she made. Come now, will you do it? Will you do it?”
“Yes,” said Rosemary.
Norman bounced up and seized her reluctant hand.
“Good! I knew you would—I told Ellen you would. I knew it would only take a minute. Now, girl, you go home and tell Ellen, and we’ll have a wedding in a fortnight and you’ll come and live with us. We shan’t leave you to roost on that hill-top like a lonely crow—don’t you worry. I know you hate me, but, Lord, it’ll be great fun living with some one that hates me. Life’ll have some spice in it after this. Ellen will roast me and you’ll freeze me. I won’t have a dull moment.”