“I’ll even try to look at it from your own point of view,” I answered, stepping back several yards to see it better, though I should have had to retire about a quarter of the length of a city block to see it quite from her own point of view.
She moved with me, both of us walking backward. I began:
“For a day like this, with all the colour in the trees themselves and so very little in the air—”
There came an interruption, a voice of unpleasant and wiry nasality, speaking from behind us.
“Well, well!” it said. “So here we are again!”
I faced about and beheld, just emerged from a by-path, a fox-faced young man whose light, well-poised figure was jauntily clad in gray serge, with scarlet waistcoat and tie, white shoes upon his feet, and a white hat, gaily beribboned, upon his head. A recollection of the dusky road and a group of people about Pere Baudry’s lamplit door flickered across my mind.
“The historical tourist!” I exclaimed. “The highly pedestrian tripper from Trouville!”
“You got me right, m’dear friend,” he replied with condescension; “I rec’leck meetin’ you perfect.”
“And I was interested to learn,” said I, carefully observing the effect of my words upon him, “that you had been to Les Trois Pigeons after all. Perhaps I might put it, you had been through Les Trois Pigeons, for the maitre d’hotel informed me you had investigated every corner—that wasn’t locked.”
“Sure,” he returned, with rather less embarrassment than a brazen Vishnu would have exhibited under the same circumstances. “He showed me what pitchers they was in your studio. I’ll luk ’em over again fer ye one of these days. Some of ’em was right gud.”
“You will be visiting near enough for me to avail myself of the opportunity?”
“Right in the Pigeon House, m’friend. I’ve just come down t’putt in a few days there,” he responded coolly. “They’s a young feller in this neighbourhood I take a kind o’ fam’ly interest in.”
“Who is that?” I asked quickly.
For answer he produced the effect of a laugh by widening and lifting one side of his mouth, leaving the other, meantime, rigid.
“Don’ lemme int’rup’ the conv’sation with yer lady-friend,” he said winningly. “What they call ‘talkin’ High Arts,’ wasn’t it? I’d like to hear some.”
Miss Elliott’s expression, when I turned to observe the effect of the intruder upon her, was found to be one of brilliant delight. With glowing eyes, her lips parted in a breathless ecstasy, she gazed upon the newcomer, evidently fearing to lose a syllable that fell from his lips. Moving closer to me she whispered urgently:
“Keep him. Oh, keep him!”