“When?” demanded the girl, looking up anxiously.
“What say ye to this day week?”
“Oh!” cried Janice. “Was ever maid born under such a ha’penny planet?”
“Don’t make outcry ’gainst your star when it has sent ye a lover in the nick of time, ready to save ye from the bumpkin.”
Janice took a shy come-and-go glance at him and said: “You mean
“What say ye to an elopement?”
“Oh!” exclaimed the girl, meeting Evatt’s gaze eagerly. “’T would be monstrous delightsome to be run off with, of course; but—”
“Well—I—Mommy told me that in the province no maid could be lawfully wed without her parents’ consent.”
“True,” assented the tempter, “if she wed where the colony law holds good. But we’ll get round that by having the knot tied on royal ground.”
“Not in England?” said the girl, drawing back a little.
“Think ye I’d treat the lass I love like that?” responded Evatt, reproachfully. “Nay. A friend of mine is chaplain on the ‘Asia’ man-of-war, and he’ll make no bones about helping us. And as the king’s flag and broad arrow puts the ship out of the colony jurisdiction, ’t will make the thing legal despite the law.”
[Illustration: “Here’s to the prettiest damsel!”]
“How romantic!” exclaimed Janice. “To think of making a stolen match, and of being wed on a king’s ship!”
“Now dost want to rail at thy star?”
“’T is great good fortune,” ecstatically sighed the girl. “Think you ’t would be right?”
“Would I ask it if ’t were not?” rejoined Evatt, heartily.
“But dadda and mommy—” began the falterer.
“Will be pleased enough when the job’s done. Think ye, if they were n’t bound they ’d not rather have a titled son-in-law than that gawk?”
“A what?” cried Janice.
“Thou dost not know thy lover’s true name, Janice. ’T is John Ombrey, Lord Clowes, who sits beside thee.”
Janice sprang to her feet. “And I’ve spoke to you as if you were just—just a man,” she cried in a horrified voice.
“’T was not fair so to beguile me!”
Evatt looked at the ground to hide the smile he could not suppress. “’T was done for the king, Janice,” he said. “And ’t is all the more romantic that I’ve won ye without your knowing. Sit down again; if ’t were not in view of the house I should be kneeling to ye.”
Janice sank back on the garden seat. “I can’t believe it yet!” she gasped breathlessly. “I knew of course thou wast a court gentleman, but—”
“And now I suppose ye’ll send me packing and wed the yokel?” suggested the lover.