You don’t like me calling you Penny-Whistles, do you? You mustn’t be angry with me for laughing at your voice: I can laugh and still like you. But can I laugh and still marry you? That’s the question. I’m afraid my sense of humor——When they had drawn up before the apartment and he had jumped to the pavement to help her out, she whispered reproachfully, “Meester Deek, you did get out quickly.” Then, as they said good-by, “It’s been the nicest time we’ve ever had.”From somewhere at the back of his mind a wise voice kept warning: “You have to live all your life with a woman; marrying’s the least part of marriage. Go slowly. How d’you know that she isn’t another Fluffy?”Next morning he phoned her at the usual time. She was still sleeping; he left a request that she should call him. He waited till twelve. At last he grew impatient and phoned her again. He was told that she had gone out with Fluffy, leaving word that he would hear from her later. By three o’clock he had not heard. All day he had been kept at high tension on the listen. The cavalierness of her conduct roused his indignation. Her punishment was out of all proportion to his offense, especially after the way in which she had received the watch-bracelet A month ago he would have hurried out to send her a peace-offering of flowers. To-day he hurried out on a different errand.
“Don’t tell me.” He banged the door and settled himself beside her. “Life’s much more surprising when you don’t know where you’re going.” He laid the flowers in her lap. “For you. You won’t refuse them?”On French soil the gayety of his adventure caught him. One day they would repeat it; she would travel with him openly from London, and it wouldn’t be an experiment From Calais he would have liked to send a telegram—but to where? She was still elusive. The train was delayed in starting. He fumed and fretted; if it arrived late he might lose her. For the last hour, as he was nearing Paris, he sat with his watch in his hand. black friday canada goose sale He urged her.CHAPTER XVI—A WONDERFUL WORLD black friday canada goose sale CHAPTER XIV—THE TRIFLERS GROW EARNESTThe inklings of life which he had gained through Vashti, made him re-act against further knowledge. Love in her case had begun with beauty, but it had ended with the wretched face of a woman and a policeman’s bull’s-eye staring down on it. Perhaps love always ended that way, causing pain to others and ugliness. He shrank from it. Like a tortoise when its head has been touched, he withdrew into his shell and stayed there. He was content to be young and to remain incurious as to the meaning of his growing manhood. The days slipped by while he lived his realities in books and pigeons, and in his father’s paintings. Not until he was fifteen did he again awaken, when the door unexpectedly opened, leading into a new experience.Would he ever be able to work again, ever be able to pursue any ambition or any dream in which she did not share? black friday canada goose sale A rush of footsteps behind him. He was caught in her embrace. It was as though she had leapt out from the picture. She was kneeling beside him, her arms about him, kissing the warm ivory of his body. His sense of shame was overpowered by his sense of wonder.“I thought you might have said it—well, just for something to say. Perhaps because you were embarrassed, or to make Tom jealous.”Slowly, like pirouetting faeries, snowflakes drifted gleaming down the dusk. It was the first snow since that memorable flight to the country.“I don’t know,” he told her, “whether you really mean no or yes.”“If you were to drop me to-morrow,” she told him, “you’d never hear from me. I’m like that. I shouldn’t run after you.”“But you’re not used to sitting up all night. You’ll be good for nothing next morning. Do be reasonable.”Teddy and Ruddy were seated on the steps. At the sound of her gasping cry, they turned to gaze into the shabby comfort of the room. She stood tiptoeing against him, clinging to his hand and scanning his face with her faded eyes. Her gray hair straggled across her wrinkled forehead; her lips trembled. Her weary, worn-out, kindly appearance made her strangely pathetic in the presence of his plump self-assertiveness.Very nice! He’d sat up all night and tossed his holiday plans to the winds for her. He grinned to himself as he cranked the engine. This was the same Desire with a vengeance—the old Desire who had tried to make people ask pardon when she was the offender. black friday canada goose sale She lit her cigarette from his, steadying herself with her hand on his shoulder. Then she lay back, staring up at the fleecy sky where the moon tipped clouds to a silver glory. She began to sing softly between her puffs:When the waiter had gone for the change, he began to relent. Fumbling in his breast-pocket, he pulled out the case and placed it on the table.But he lay and remembered. Vashti had asked him to marry her. Perhaps she had not meant it. How long would it take to become a man? Did little boys ever marry grown ladies? black friday canada goose sale “Was that why? Because——”“Let’s,” she nodded, “you convenient person.” The curl against her neck shook roguishly.They two alone had nothing to remember—all the rapture of life lay ahead. In the darkness he felt her hand groping. One by one he coaxed apart the reluctant fingers and pressed the little palm against his mouth. She allowed herself to be drawn closer; he could feel the wild bird of her heart beating its wings against the walls of the flesh.“I know. I followed you.”“You’re eating my heart out, Desire. I’m good for nothing. You must say yes. If you don’t love me, you at least like me. You like me immensely, don’t you? The other will come later.” His voice trembled with the need of her; it was more like crying. He tried to draw her to him; she clutched her wrap more tightly, and dodged across the threshold.Stretched limply on the bank, her hair broken loose, the policeman’s bull’s-eye glaring down on her, was Harriet.That afternoon he visited the editor who was the excuse for his journey. All the while, as he sat talking to him, he kept thinking: “The flowers will have arrived by now. She’ll know that I have come.”She came in with her arms full of parcels. He held the book up triumphantly. “I’m awfully-proud. You are a queer kiddy. Why didn’t you tell me? I thought you didn’t care.”The immediate outcome of this was money—more money than Eden Row had ever imagined. Mrs. Sheerug refused to leave Orchid Lodge.It was as though a story-book had been snatched from his hands when he was halfway through the adventure. There were so many things that he wanted to know. It seemed to him that he had lost sight of Vashti for ever.