“I don’t know,” remarked Juliet, at the end of an uncomfortable pause, “what to do with myself. I don’t want to stay here alone and I wouldn’t go anywhere near them—not for the world.”
“Where did you say you were going, when I came?”
“To Aunt Francesca’s—Madame Bernard, you know.”
“Good business,” he answered, nodding vigorous approval. “Come on. She seems to be the unfailing refuge of the shipwrecked mariner in this district. If I’m not much mistaken, she’ll take you into her big house and her bigger heart.”
“Oh,” said Juliet, wistfully, “do you think she would take me—and make me into a lady?”
“I think she’ll take you,” he responded, after a brief struggle with himself, “but I don’t want you made over. I want you to stay just exactly as you are. Oh, you dear little kid,” he muttered, “you’ll try to care, won’t you?”
“I’ll try,” she promised, sweetly, as she climbed into the big red machine. “I didn’t think I’d ever be in this car.”
“You can come whenever you like. It’s mine, now.”
Juliet did not seem to hear. The car hummed along the dusty road, making a soothing, purring noise. Pensively she looked across the distant fields, whence came the hum and whir of reaping. There was a far-away look in her face that the man beside her was powerless to understand. She was making swift readjustments as best she might, and, wisely, he left her to herself.
As they approached Madame Bernard’s, Juliet turned to him. “I was just thinking,” she sighed, “how quickly you grow up after you get to be twenty-one.”
He made no answer. He swallowed hard and turned the car into the driveway. Aunt Francesca came out on the veranda, followed by Mr. Boffin, as Juliet jumped out of the car. She had the crumpled note in her cold little hand.
Without a word, she offered it to Madame Bernard and waited. The beautiful face instantly became soft with pity. “My dear child,” she breathed. “My dear little motherless child!”
Juliet went into her open arms as straight as a homing pigeon to its nest. “Oh, Aunt Francesca,” she sobbed, “will you take me and make a lady out of me?”
“You’re already a lady,” laughed the older woman amid her tears. “Come in, Juliet dear—come home!”
THE HOUSE WHERE LOVE LIVED
It was past the middle of October, and Allison’s injured hand was not only free of its bandages, but he had partially regained the use of it. Doctor Jack still lingered, eagerly seizing every excuse that presented itself.
“I suppose I ought to be back looking for another job,” he regretfully observed to Allison, “but I like it here, and besides, I want to hear you play on your fiddle before I go.”
Allison laughed and hospitably urged him to stay as long as he chose. Colonel Kent added, heartily, after an old Southern fashion: “My house is yours.”