“Not one but would have to give the pas to ye, Miss Janice,” protested Evatt, “could ye but be presented at St. James’s.”
“How lovely!” cried Janice, ecstatically, and then in sudden abasement asserted, “Oh, I know you are—you are only making fun of me!”
“Now, burn me, if I am!” insisted the man, with such undoubted admiration in his manner as to confirm his words to the girl. “By Heaven!” he marvelled to himself. “Who ’d have believed such innocence possible? ’T is Mother Eve before the fall! She knows nothing.” A view of woman likely to get Mr. Evatt into trouble. There is very little information concerning the ante-prandial Eve, but from later examples of her sex, it is safe to affirm that the mother of the race knew several things before partaking of the tree of knowledge. Man only is born so stupid as to need education.
“Why canst thou not let me have sight of this wondrous female?” he went on aloud. “Surely thou art not really fearsome to brave comparison.”
“’T is not that, indeed,” denied Janice, colouring, “but— well—in a moment.” The girl turned her back to Mr. Evatt, and in a moment faced him once more, the miniature in her hand. “Isn’t she beautiful?”
Evatt looked at the miniature. “That she is,” he assented. “And strike me dumb, but she reminds me of some woman I’ve once seen in London.”
“Oh, how interesting!” exclaimed the girl. “What was her name?”
“’T is exactly that I am asking myself.”
“He must be well-born,” argued Janice, “to have her miniature; look at the jewels in her hair.”
“Ah, my child, there ’s more than the well-born wear—” the man stopped short. “How know ye,” he went on, “that the bondsman comes by it rightly? The frame is one of price.”
“I don’t,” the girl replied, “and the initials on the back are n’t his.”
“‘W. H. J. B.,’” read Evatt.
“He may have changed his name,” suggested Janice.
“True,” assented the man, with a slight laugh; “that ’s a mighty clever thought and gives us a clue to his real one.”
“Perhaps you’ve heard of a man in London with a name to fit W. H. J. B.?” said the maid, inquiringly.
Evatt turned away to conceal an unsuppressable smile, while thinking, “The innocent imagines London but another Brunswick!”
“Dost think I should make him take it back?” asked Janice.
“Certainly not,” replied her advise; responding to the only too manifest wish of the girl.
“Then dost think I should speak to mommy or dadda?”
“’T is surely needless! The fellow refuses it, and so ’t is yours till he demands it.”
“How lovely! Oh, I’d like to be home this instant, to see how ’t would appear about my neck. Last night I crept out of bed to have a look, but Tibbie turned over, and I thought me she was waking. I think I’ll go at once and—”
“And end our walk?” broke in Evatt, reproachfully.