The Anatomy of Love
THE DESCENT TO THE PRIMITIVE
JOHN HERRIN MACRAVEN, for the first time since his flight from Amboro, seemed morose and depressed and nervous. He sat up in bed and carefully felt his pulse, but could detect no symptom of physiological disturbance.
He knew it was something of the mind, and not of the body, for half an hour later when Sybil carolled her morning call from the leaf-muffled garden under his window, he resentfully slammed the heavy wooden shutters.
“Hoity-toity!” he heard the surprised girl cry aloud, at that unexpected sign of temper. But she went on singing, as artlessly as ever.
The shutters of the second window were straightway slammed to, with even greater vigor.
“Brute!” said the girl, and there was no more singing.
It was not until he had emerged from his shadowy room into the clear white sunlight of the early morning, and paced the deserted verandahs and the lonely garden-parterres, that the enormity of his offence, the sheer barbarity of his mood, came home to him. The more he cogitated over his pettishness, his miserable moment of wrong-doing, the more he resolved to make amends. His inward distress was so great, in fact, that the mere thought of breakfast suddenly becarre a
THE STORY TO DATE
Professor John Herrin Macraven, Dean of Amboro University, who has selected as his life work the preparation of a series of volumes on love, is asked by a former associate, who is going on a trip to spend part of his vacation on his farm to look after his daughter Sybil. Macraven has been working hard on his last book “The Anatomy of Love" and welcomes the chance, especially as he is apprehensive that Anne Appleby, a very attractive young Amboro woman, to whom years before he had rashly proposed, has designs now on his freedom. He remembers Sybil as a little girl but, walking to the Shotwell Farm from the station, he stumbles across a very beautiful young girl combing out her hair by the side of a pool—and so learns that Sybil has grown. He finds hei' pleasure-loving, poetical and scornful of science, but decides that at last he has found a girl who might be persuaded to discuss the psychology of love. Sybil initiates me Professor into the delights of country liteven to the extent of making him go barefoot, but rather perturbs him with the intelligence that Anne is coming down also.
mockery. He started off, without hat or rubbers, in resolute search of Sybil.
A sudden sense of loss and deprivation took possession of him. The house seemed cramped and musty. The quiet was oppressive. The verandahs stood bald and cheerless, and he was glad to get away from their echoing solitudes.
He wandered off down through the orchard, listlessly. From there he went on to the east meadow, and then out past the grape-rows to the walnut grove. The very fields seemed empty and unattractive. The birds were singing, but he did not hear them. The flowers were as fresh and abundant about him as ever, the skies were as blue above him. But he did not observe them.
C UDDENLY he came to a standstill, de^ manding of himself some reason for his change of feeling. It was not his rheumatism—his knee was in no way troubling him. He had not taken a chill— he had been exceptionally careful about his flannels. There had been no dietetic indiscretions—he had fallen on his meals, in fact, with the hunger of a wolf. And it was not eye-strain, or overwork, as it had once been.
A knowledge of science, he had always proudly claimed, held man above the momentary indiscretions and dilemmas of life. It provided him with that detached and impersonal point of view which made the pettiness of all things earthly only too obvious. Yet he now stopped and looked about him, with a sudden uneasy and furtive glance. Could it be Sybil, or any ridiculous jealousy of Sybil and her affairs?
He refused to concede a claim so absurd. Why should he imagine that the coming and going of this slip of a girl should take the color and meaning out of life and leave him contented on the one hand, or aimless and disconsolate, on the other?
It was, at any rate, mysterious. And with a profound sigh of resignation, he began to walk, feverishly, without sense of time or direction. He kept up his mad pace until the ache in his legs and the distressingly empty feeling in the pit of his stomach prompted him first to think ruefully of breakfast and then to turn quite as ruefully homeward. Sybil, by this time, would surely be back. But the problem remained, how was he going to make his peace with her?
He stopped, in the lane, before a glowing cluster of briar roses, and an inspiration came to him. What could be more significant than a peace-offering of those pale and delicate blossoms—of which she was so fond—still wet and sparkling with the morning’s dew!
So with great care and industry he cut and gathered an armful of pink briar-
rose knotting the thorny stems together with a slender willow-wand. Then he crept furtively back through the garden, skirting the front of the house, and slipping in between hedges and bushes until he came under an open window which he knew to be Sybil’s. As he listened, smiling at the thought of his happy subterfuge, he could even catch the sound of her soft movements about the room above him. He looked carefully around, to see that he was unobserved. Then he crept still closer to the window, and flung the great armful of flowers into the room.
If she acknowledged the gift, he knew that he was forgiven, that his ungraciousness of the past was forgotten. Then he fell back quickly as he listened. For the voice that he heard was not the light and silvery voice of Sybil, but the measured tones of her father, giving utterance to sudden and easily discernible annoyance.
“I’d be vastly obliged, Sybil, if you'd shake the water out of this rubbish before tinging it into my trunkful of manuscripts!”
' I 'HE young Professor drew back. He -*• would have turned and fled, incontinently, but it was already too late. His old-time colleague was looking down at him, with wide and astounded eyes, from the square of the open window.
“What in the name of—of science do you mean, Macraven, by slinging these confounded rose-bushes at me?" And he held up before the abashed peace-maker the armful of briar-ross so carefully tied with its willow-wand. The younger man continued to gaze absently at his fingers, filled with minute rose-thorns.
“I assume this floral contribution was intended for me?”
“Er—yes, of course! I—I thought—”
The older man, still puzzled and impatient, waited for the other to proceed.
“I take it they were intended more to cheer me on my journey than for any immediate botanical examination?” mildly inquired Doctor Shotwell, turning over the huge nosegay.
“Yes—that’s it!” agreed the man beneath the window, mopping hi9 brow. He waited for something further to be said, before beating a retreat. As no word came from the window, he turned about, thrust his hands deep in his trousers pockets, and with melancholy aimlessness and the hollow mockery of a whistle wandered off into the garden. Once out of sight of the house, however, his entire demeanor changed. He clenched his jaw. and smiting the hollow of his left hand with the tightly closed fingers of his right, he emitted one audible and eloquent monosyllabic word of disgust.
“Country life does seem to be changing him!” murmured the old Scientist, as he
stood at the open window gazing after the vanishing Macraven.
MACRAVEN had once looked forward with a vague dread and uneasiness to the hour of Doctor Shotwell’s departure. When that hour actually arrived, however, the younger man, with still some shred of his old-time and innate scrupulosity of thought and deed, felt sadly disturbed at his absence of regret. There were reasons for this, he suspected, after his hour of farewell with his old colleague, but those reasons were of such a nature that he did not care to drag them into the light. Life was short, he told himself, and whatever it cost, he was going to have his day. And as he repeated that ancient and hedonistic phrase he began to gaze absently about the countryside, as though in search of something he could not clearly define.
It was Terence the gardener, back from the railway station, who told the young Professor that Sybil would be found in the strawberry patch.
The disconsolate scientist cleared the orchard fence at one lithe bound, crossed a field of Alsace clover with long strides, and caught sight of Sybil in the sunbathed distance, a soft splash of pink against the dark green of the strawberry leaves.
She was kneeling between the wide rows, and the broad milk-pan into which she was picking the fruit shimmered with the refracted sunlight. Yes, it was gloriout weather again, acknowledged the Professor to himself. The birds were singing again, almost drunkenly, the blossoms were blowing fragrantly once more, the sound of rippling water filled the soft air. And he could see the flutter of her hands, as she stooped over the vines, the glint of her loosened hair in the sunlight. It was good to be alive, on such a day!
T_T E waived to her blithely, from the A fence-top, and then as blithely called to her. She seemed neither to see nor hear him, so engrossed was she in her berry-picking. He approached her dubiously, wondering if it would be as glorious a day, after all, as it had promised.
He came to a stop within six feet of where she knelt. He remembered then that she had been crying, that a paroxysm of weeping had shaken her slender body as she clung to her father and said goodbye to him. Even while inwardly remarking that tears seemed to be the final sedative in the feminine pharmacopoeia, the younger man of science had instinctively backed away from that scene, not a little affected by the sudden discovery of some deeper current of feeling beyond the rippling shallows of adolescent lightheartedness.
Yet already her tears were forgotten, it seemed, as she half turned and studied the silent figure in black with covert sideglances from under the wide rim of her pink sunbonnet.
“Good morning!” she said at last, quite meekly.
“Good morning, Miss Sybil,” returned the humbled man of learning.
He was looking down at her, with impersonal studiousness, noting the accidental array of color before his eyes, the
deep crimson of the ripened berries, the dark green of the leaves, the golden yellow of her swinging hair, the soft pink of her frock and sunbonnet.
Sybil looking up from under the brim of her sunbonnet saw that his ill-temper was as much a thing of the past as her own tears. So she turned to him with a sudden little out-thrust of her berrystained hand.
“I’m sorry!” she said.
Something in the wistfulness of her glance in the plaintiveness of her voice smote him to the heart.
“Don’t!” he implored, with an involuntary and quite ridiculous swallowing motion of the throat, as though he had discovered a gland which did not belong
Sybil looked on her work, and saw that it was good.
“Aren’t you sorry, too?” she asked, as she picked a casual berry or two.
npHE young Professor got down on his knees beside her. He poked about under the dark green leaves, both as an excuse for the attitude and as an eifort to cover his sudden confusion.
“Not the green ones, please!” said Sybil softly, giving him her eyes.
He took her hand, her sun-browned, timorous little hand, and held it in his.
“I am 9orry !” he said, with a gulp. And then, as though he had just realized the terrible dimensions of his outrage, he dropped the hand and fell to picking strawberries, grimly and feverishly.
Sybil sighed. Then she sat up and, crushing a great, over-ripe scarlet berry between her scarlet lips, studied her companion’s solemn face.
“How could you!” she reproved mourn-
fully. “You—you might have been kind to me—until Anne came, at least!”
He began to look very miserable, and very guilty. He wondered to which that reproof applied : To the slamming of a wooden shutter, or to the holding of a berry-stained hand.
“It’s so—why, I’m blushing!” said Sybil. The young scientist looked so long for the blush that she had nothing to do but hang her head before the directness of his gaze.
“I wonder why it was?” she asked, dreamily, toying with a strawberry leaf.
“You wonder why you blush?” interrogated the young Professor.
Sybil nodded her head, and moved the heaping milk-pan further down the row.
“Why, a blush is nothing more than a sudden suffusion of the facial veins due to momentary paralysis of the vasoconstrictor nerves. Personally, I reject Darwin’s theory that a person who thinks, for instance, others are looking at her directs her attention to her own face, resulting in a flow of blood towards that part. Wundt claims that this momentary relaxation of the vasomotor innervation, causing the blush, is compensation for the accelerated pulsation of the heart, produced by emo-
“Oh!” said Sybil.
“My own theory of this most interesting of all organic and functional manifestations which accompany the simple emotions is that the blush Í9 a vestigial remnant of the childhood of our race. I mean, following the principle of recapitulation,’ that this woman’s blush of yours is inherited from the twilight of time, when woman was the hunted, and man the hunter”-
“But isn’t that the way it still is?” interrupted the girl, gently.
Of course, my dear, of course,” pursued the man of science. “But as I was about to explain, this blush of yours is an echo of the time when to be admired or complimented was a sign of danger. It is a whisper to you from your ancestors. Primitive woman knew that the expressed approbation of the male meant prompt struggle or flight—for her, more expenditure of energy more heart-action. And the heart, which is only a muscle, acquired the habit, as it were, and has not been able to shake it off. Do you follow me?”
Sybil, eating a strawberry, nodded.
“Is the heart only a muscle?” she asked, dreamily. She ate another strawberry, meditatively. “Perhaps that’s why it can get so tired, and ache so much, sometimes!”
The young Professor tried not to show his impatience at that intrusion of sentiment into the cold white light of science.
‘ For example,” he continued, facing her with gently tapping index fingers, here are you and I, alone in this vast field. You comprehend that we are no longer pagan, that civilization has laid its duties and obligations on me, that you are in no danger whatever of — of unseemly advances.”
Sybil gazed at him solemnly, roundeyed and attentive, nodding her head.
You know all this, the personal woman in you does, yet the natural, the representative woman in you still blushes.
That is to say, nature still flashes her semaphoric danger-signal, although for centuries and centuries not a car-wheel of emergency has moved along that track, so to speak!”
“Isn’t that interesting!” said Sybil, her utterance a little thick with a half-eaten strawberry. “And after all there isn’t the slightest danger, is there?”
C TOUTLY and decisively the young ^ Professor assured her there was not, and Sybil suddenly flung away a strawberry that proved to be bitter and overripe. He thought how interesting it was, this teaching of transcendental physiology to such a class, even while he wondered why she laughed as she looked after that bitter and over-ripe berry. He drew closer to her, and began picking the little soft globes of scarlet and dropping them into the milk-pan. A silence fell over them. The birds sang, the leaves stirred, the little stream in the next meadow sparkled and flashed and tinkled.
“Won’t you tell me more about your work?” asked Sybil.
“Then it interests you?”
“Yes, I love it!” said Sybil, raptly. She sat down between the long green rows. “And Anne seems to understand everything you’re doing, and lecturing on, and writing about!”
The sky was clear, but it seemed as though a cloud had crept over the face of the open sun.
“You know I didn’t mean it, when I made fun of science. I help father in his work, sometimes, but up here, you know, I haven’t much of a chance to know things, have I? I’ve only got to exist, to eat and sleep and lie in the sun and purr like a cat. Do tell me more about what you call science, what it means, what it’s doing in the real world!”
The young Professor cleared his throat, and from time to time as he spoke Sybil dropped a berry into the pan.
“Science—science first organized knowledge and coaxed from nature those secrets that made possible the utilization of earth’s natural resources. While she primarily explains life, she prolongs and intensifies it. Impartial in her activities, boundless in her possibilities, she has reorganized industry, disciplined intellect, unlocked the tombs of the past, and prepared the paths of the future. She is the torch-bearer, the light-bringer, the—”
He came to a stop, disconcerted by the simile that curled about Sybil’s lips. Instead of listening open-eyed to that flight of oratory she was gazing at him with soft commiseration as she slowly, one by one, dropped the plump red berries into her pan.
“And that’s what you’re giving your life up to?” she quietly demanded.
“One could live and die for it!” he declared.
“And grow old, and see life get emptier and emptier, and still not find what you’re looking for?”
She was nodding her head up and down, sagely, almost pityingly.
“And what difference will it make to you and me after all, a hundred years from now?” the girl in the pink sunbonnet softly asked.
r I'HE man of science looked about him at the light-drenched meadow-lands, at the singing birds and the rustling treetops. Then he turned back to the girl pulsing with warmth and youth at his side. The one was the concrete and the ephemeral, the other was the abstract and the eternal. He wondered how he would be able to explain the paradox to her.
“Don’t you think,” she was pensively asking him, “don’t you think people sometimes get cold and thin-blooded and shortsighted up on the peaks of science?”
He thought quite otherwise, though he fought in vain against the feeling of depression stealing over him. Then a little question startled him: Could he be thinblooded?
“But doesn’t it seem to you they lose a lot out of life, a lot of the joy of living, of the good times we were meant to have?”
“But what is pleasure?” demanded the young Profesor. “After all, what is the basis of hedonistic experience?”
Sybil shook her head again, slowly. Then she rose to her feet.
“I’m nearly starved, and there’s Hannah ringing the lunch bell for the second time. And we’re going to have strawberry shortcake.”
The man of science heard the sound of the distant bell, tinkling musically across the waving fields. There seemed something unspeakably pleasant in the sound.
Side by side they made their way toward the lane. At the fence Sybil turned to him.
“Will you help me over?” she asked, demurely.
He went first. Then he took the pan of berries. Then he turned back for the waiting girl. After all, it was a glorious day.
“I’m afraid I’m too heavy!” murmured the girl, as his arms reached out for her.
A moment later the young Professor of Anthropology was not asking himself questions as to the basis of hedonistic experience. For as he reached up for her groping hands the lightly balanced figure in pink swayed forward. He caught her, and kept her from falling, but as he did so he was thinking more about Sybil than about Science. He felt only the weight of her hands clasping his shoulders, he saw only the descending figure in its roselike raiment which seemed to envelop him in a sudden odorous cloud of color, as softly and yet as completely as a shower of rose-leaves themselves might muffle and hide away some solemn and ageworn tablet of an earlier century.
No, he assured himself, a little apprehensively, he was far from being thinblodded !
THE PATHS OF PAN.
JOHN HERRIN MACRA VEN came *“*down to breakfast in his new flannels. As he had feared, it was an extremely illfitting suit, much too loose in the shoulders and much too long in the trouser-legs. His new neckties too—he had sent for colored ones—were of far too vivid and flaming a crimson to blend readily with his scholastic sobriety of taste. But Sybil, before
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Anatomy of Love
Continued from page 24
whom with intent and malice aforethought he suddenly presented himself, clasped her hands with open and unmistakable delight.
.“And isn’t it funny,” she said, tucking away a letter she had been reading, in one end of the toast-rack, “Anne says she has just given up wearing mourning herself!”
The young Professor tried to imagine Anne in anything but black. It was as hard as trying to imagine Sybil in anything but pink and white and blue. Then he felt the large white pearl buttons on his coat of cricketer’s-flannel and adjusted his gaily-tinted tie. After all, there was something rejuvenating in this marching with the young.
“And Anne will be here in two days more!” said Sybil, thoughtfully, across the coffee cups.
Five days had already slipped past, and a Macraven demanded of an unanswering heaven and earth just where they had gone One morning, he knew, they had walked to the woods, for the verandah-box ferns. In the afternoon they had gathered wild strawberries along the river bank. Twice they had gone fishing, and caught nothing more than a pickerel and two shiners. Another whole afternoon had been taken up with helping her distil her home-made apple-blossom perfumery. The day before he had helped her lay out her garden.
It was a prim and old-fashioned little garden with a sun-dial in the centre and a birds’ house, where nested noisy starlings and swifts, at one end, and a grapearbor at the other end. Circling these were Persian lilacs and flowering almonds, alternating, at stiffly regular intervals, with a tangled background of syringa run wild. Along the inner narrow walks were little fairy-like forests of fox-glove, and tall Canterbury Belles, with straw-colored flower-de-luce and thick-growing peonies and dog-roses and bleeding-hearts, all sadly neglected and unweeded—for here Terence knew better than to intrude. But it was the poppy and pansy bed that most appealed to Sybil. “I always call them Kiss-Me-Quicks,” she had said, leaning over the rows of velvety color. “And father once told me they were called Mump-Up-And-Kiss-Mes’ as early as Spencer!”
' I ' HERE had too been one long day of steady rain, through which the young Professor had read in the silent old crimson-curtained library. He had almost welcomed that day indoors, but after half an hour with her book Sybil had called it stupid, and declared that reading made her sleepy. Then she had yawned and gone to the window, and yawned again, and turned still again towards the man reading in the faded armchair. And the young Professor had been so deep in his volume that she had left him there alone, for an hour or more, before he had discovered the fact. After all she was so young and light and capricious! He could not expect her to be like —well, like Anne, for instance. He would
have been able to talk things over with Anne, point by point, and he especially wanted to thresh out this new question of ant-egg incubation and communal responsibility in the neo-larval age. Anne had the knack of giving him ideas. She had even helped him color honey with turmeric and cochineal, in his study of the instinctive rejection of innutrients. But Anne, of course, was solid prose. She did not fit in with a holiday mood. She did not throb and pulse with the light metre of poetry, as did Sybil.
For, on the next day, when all the world seemed washed as clean and fresh as a wide garden, Sybil had waded at his side through the tangled clover-blossoms and recited to him the poem she had written up in her room. It wa9 called “Rain,” and the young Professor was compelled to admit that it was a beautiful poem. He had, in fact, copied it down in his note-book, line for line, though when he read it over that night, before going to bed, it seemed to miss something of the charm and magic which it held when it first fell from Sybil’s dreamily chanting young lips.
And to-day, he had remembered, as he rubbed his eyes and caught a glimpse of the first morning sunlight through the window-shutters, he was to gather pondlilies with Sybil.
To gather pond-lilies! And far off in the world vast issues were impending, and great problems were solving, and feverish hands were clutching at some newer torch of truth, while he would be paddling about in a green row-boat looking for a Castalia odorata or two! He smiled a little, at the Arcadian simplicity of the thought. Yet why should gathering pond-lilies not be as important as the building of empires or the elucidation of a new element! He was not so narrow and musty as he had been, he told himself, and open air and exercise and freedom from worry, and light and engaging company—were these not all excellent stimuli? Even Herbert Spencer, in his recreative hours of hill-climbing and fishing, had confessed to that. And he wondered if Spencer, in all his career, had ever met and known a Sybil.
The young Professor felt that he was drifting softly along to the sound of hidden music, before the balmiest of summer breezes. How long is could last he dare not think—but it wa9 delicious while it did last. And he listened for Sybil, on the front lawn, whistling for the dogs.
TT was a warm and brooding day of early
summer. The sky was a high-arched dome of pulsating turquoise, fading first into cyan blue and then into the color of a robin-egg at the horizon. The trees were full-leaved and motionless. The abandoned note had gone out of the singing of the field birds. The period of courtship was gliding into the period of consummation. The blossom was maturing into the young fruit; the mother wing was fluttering about the crowded nest. A touch of maturity after adolescence, a feeling in all nature for the more sober prose after the wilder vernal poetry, seemed to fill the warming earth.
A vague sense of something impending and climatic took possession of the young Professor of Anthropology as he walked side by side with the silent and brooding
Sybil, down through the orchard and the second meadow to the river where the boat was moored. It was nature asking no longer mere dream and rhapsody but demanding achievement and surrender. And it tended, in some way, to make the young scholar rather silent, and secretly uncomfortable. He felt it both a solace and a source of confidence to remember that his esoteric knowledge of that veiled drama of life would always show him whither his pathway led. His knowledge of psychology, he prided himself, would always lay bare to his own eyes both the nature and the trend of his own emotions.
“What makes you so solemn looking?” demanded Sybil.
Her companion coughed in his throat; it was his lecture platform trick when mentally groping for some eluding phrase or word. It would be difficult, he felt, to make his indeterminate ideation clear to
“I was thinking how lovely you look in that white muslin dress,” he equivocated, airily. He felt that he had achieved a highly creditable stroke, for he was delivered of the open compliment without even a blush.
But his triumph was short-lived.
“That sounds mushy, and just like Dickie!” declared Sybil, with a little lipcurl of disdain, resenting some tacit note of condescension in his tone. “And besides, it’s not muslin, it’s dimity.”
“And who is Dickie?” demanded her companion, raising his voice a little mockingly on the last diminutive, feeling something familiar in the sound of the name.
It had never entered his head that other men could be so hopelessly bold as to say such things to her. He felt that he would strongly dislike this young gentleman of the diminutive name. So he was as solemn as ever while he repeated the ques-
“Oh, you’ll find out!” temporized Sybil. She walked on with knitted brows for a few moments; then she stopped and placed her hand on the other’s arm.
“You won’t mind if I tell you something,” she began, hesitatingly. “It’s— it’s something you must always keep a secret.”
The young Professor promised; and waited expectantly.
“Dickie is Richard—Richard Ford Sewell! I’ve coaxed Anne to bring him up with her for a couple of weeks. It’s so pokey, you know!”
Richard Ford Sewell, the philanderer, the idler, the drone of Amboro!
“Anne thought it would be nice,” murmured the humble Sybil.
“But why?” demanded the other.
“Why, for company!”
“But company for whom—for Anne, do you mean?” He hated mysteries, and he was beginning to get impatient over it all.
C YBIL swallowed hard, as though ^ struggling to keep back some untimely flood either of tears or laughter, he could not tell which.
“Yes, for Anne!” she answered.
“Oh,” he said, with a look of relief. It was his turn to walk on with knitted brows. He was recalling numerous matters pertaining to Master Richard Ford Sewell of Amboro.
“But look here,” he broke out suddenly.
“I don’t think this young Sewell is the sort of chap for Anne to be going about with ! As I remember him, he’s a cheeky-”
“He is,” averred Sybil. “The cheekiest alive!”
The young Professor was drawing himself up-to his full height.
“Do you mean he’s ever cheeky to—to you?” demanded her guardian.
“Always!” declared Sybil.
Something in her tone seemed to imply that this “cheek” was not so objectionable as one might imagine. The young Professor even stopped to picture a scene where he himself might be winningly impudent. His imagination, browsing over the wide range of possibilities, led him far astray, and Sybil, once cleared of her confession, made it a point that his thoughts should not return to that earlier topic.
“That’s why I like you so much,“ she said, in a sudden deeper note of seriousness, and he noticed, for the first time, that her hand was resting on his arm, confidantly. “I like you because I know you —you would never try to be cheeky.”
He fidgeted a little, not knowing whether to be glad or miserable.
“I was afraid you thought I was, a bit,” he demurred.
“Oh, never!” she assured him, trustfully picking a thread from the lapel of his coat. The light fingers, still resting on his arm, seemed to send a genial warmth from his elbow up through ali his six feet of sentinel guardianship.
“That’s why I’ve always believed in bashful men,” she went on. “You know you’re fearfully bashful!” Her voice rippled off into a little silver stream of laughter.
“Oh, I say!” he demurred, contentedly. “But I mean it,” she continued. “Anne says so too. I remember her saying that when a grown man is bashful it shows he’s still a boy at heart. Who ever heard of a criminal blushing, or a roué stammering. as she used to ask? The man who is bashful is still sensitive, still has all the finer feelings. He can’t be old and wornout and tired of it all And women always like a man who’s new at things—they like to lead and teach him, you know: and they can do it without being afraid, with the really bashful man. For there’s always hope for the man who blushes!”
“You mean that it kind of shows he has imagined his chances without having buoyed his channel?”
“Yes, something like that, for it means that even if he is on the verge of being terribly bad he’s not used to being that way!”
SHE was not such a child, after all, this wisp of worldly-wise womanhood in her dimity gown. Timeless intuitions, he felt, echoed out of her careless laughter; the wisdom of the ages slept entombed in her young bosom. He had been too unguarded and given to impulse with her. She had seemed so natural and ingenuous, he thought that he had been merely responding to candor with candor.
“But you’re not angry?” she asked, appealingly, pressing his arm. He was mediating on the new and primal and pristine thought as to what a pregnant thing one light and casual touch of a girl’s hand
could be—as many and many a poet had said and sung, aeons before him!—and he did not answer her, for the simple reason that he found himself with nothing
“Don’t be stupid and spoil this lovely day of ours!” she coaxed. “We’ve had enough of all this solemn talking. And just above the bend of the river, there, is father’s row of Black Tartarian cherries. I saw Terence making a scare-crow yesterday to keep the robins away. So that must mean they’re fit to eat!”
She clapped her hands with delight, under the wide-spread cherry boughs, as she peered upward and saw the purplish black glow of the ripened fruit.
“I love them,” she cried, ecstatically, and he saw, with startled eyes, that she was no longer the woman, but a child again. “Don’t you?”
He acknowledged that he did.
“We’ll have to climb for ’em!” she said, throwing off her light coat and flinging back her loosened hair.
“Not for me, thank you!” said the Professor, with great dignity. This sort of thing must have its limits, painful as it might be to point them out to her.
“Pooh!” said Sybil, unperturbed. “You take that tree, and I’ll take this one!”
“I’d prefer not!” said the othe*-, backing
“Don’t be a poke!” said Sybil. “I’ve done this since I was ten years old ! And if you’ve never eaten cherries off the tree you don’t know what living is!”
' I 'HE young Professor still backed away, doggedly, for already she was clambering up among the lower branches of a nearby tree. He could hear her movements amid the screening foliage. At last he became conscious of the fact that she was shooting cherry-pits at him.
He waited patiently, indignantly, wrathfully, but still she sang and ate. She threw him a handful of the ripest and blackest and biggest on the tree, but he refused to touch them. He would have taken his departure in high dudgeon, only before he was aware of it she had clambered down through the thick leafage, swung for a moment from a lower bough that drooped with her weight, and then dropped lightly to the ground.
Her hair was tumbled and blown across her face, her mouth was stained with cherry-juice, and an audacious and reckless light shone from her eyes.
“Shocked?” she said, tying back her
He did not answer.
His sternness seemed to frighten her. That had been his intention. Still again a change swept across her face. She came over to him, slowly, penitently, and once more he saw in her not the child, but the woman, intuitive, adroit, embattled, a mysterious something to be feared and opposed and combated. Yet what was there to be afraid of, he asked himself— with only leaves and silence, sunlight and water, and a hoydenish tom-boy of a girl, near him?
“You’re not angry, are you?” the solemn tom-boy was asking, almost against his shoulder.
Instinctively, automatically, involuntarily, his arms went out, and in another
moment would have caught and held her, had not the Goddess of the lonely heights of science benignantly stooped to him in his moment of need. Tangled in her hair he caught sight of a gypsy-moth cocoon. It was the Ocneria dispar, he remembered, and an excellent specimen.
It was only a moment’s pause, but in that moment the charm was broken, the spell had withered. A consciousness of conspiracy against his freedom, his ego, his sex, crept through him. His arms dropped to his side; he fell back before her threatening touch.
“Let’s—let’s go for the boat!” he cried with a gasp, mopping his forehead.
“Very well,” answered Sybil, quietly, meditatively, as she stooped for her jacket. She caught up with him, and went along at his side, and as she did so she moistened her cherry-stained lips. It was a movement strangely like that of a young tigress that had fallen upon her first taste of blood, and yet had been denied its second.
THE DESCENT TO REALITY.
TT was not a wide and lordly river, but as -*• the silent man and the crooning girl drifted down its narrow and winding course between screening festoons of wild grape-vine and Virginia creeper and bitter-sweet, and sentinel-like elms and buttonwoods and willows, it seems the most beautiful stream that ever wound between earthly hills, as tranquillizing and placid as Lethe itself. Macraven at the oars, had already forgotten his disquieting fears. Sybil, in the stern, trailed her fingers in the limpid amber water. The sun was high and hot, the shadows were dark and cool. Time and the world were no longer remembered.
“We’ll just be children to-day, shan’t we?” she murmured.
The wanderers at last decided to drift down to Anona Island, where the river widened into a broken and shallow lagoon. It was there, Sybil explained, that she usually found her first water-lilies. And they could build a little fire on the island and make tea, and have luncheon, and start out to look for the lilies later in the afternoon, when it was cooler.
They had surrendered to a mood of lazy merriment, and during that Arcadian repast were indeed as light-hearted as children, in the face of the fact that their milk jug had fallen into the river and their lemon pie had been sat on by the unsuspecting and innocent Professor. Sybil deftly spread her cloth on the sloping stretch of green turf, while Macraven blew on the fire until he was red in the face, and then fanned the embers with his hat until the smudge drove his companion sneezing to the upper ground, where she rubbed her eyes and looked down on him with demure dissatisfaction.
“You know exactly as much about building a fire as I know about cooking a meal!” she declared, with a sigh of resignation.
“Why, do you mean to say you’ve never learned cooking and all that sort of thing?” he demanded, turning on her suddenly. Then these biscuits, as white and light as snowflakes, on which he
had been feasting his eyes, were the flowering of the humble Hannah’s art!
“Pooh!” she said, with a little gesture of disgust, “I hate it!”
“But, I say, supposing you should have to do that sort of thing some day?” rejoined the practical scientist, wondering why that confession should so depress and disturb him.
“But I never shall!” said Sybil, airily, coming back to where the luncheon was spread. She could see by his face that he still nursed his old-fashioned prejudices as to the domestic woman and her ways. “But I hate it, just the same!” she confessed, honestly, even as she remembered that Anne was able to make Southern corn-puddings over which her father would talk for months afterwards.
SYBIL’S confession seemed to shake a second petal from the perfect flower of his too full self-content. He, too, gazed out over the water with empty and meditative eyes.
“You think I’m lazy and—and good for nothing!” began the girl, throwing pebbles into the river.
“But look at Anne, with all her wealth, with all her opportunities for idling—see how well she can do those things!”
“I’m sick of hearing of Anne!” cried the girl. “For ten years I’ve had Anne held up to me as a paragon of all the virtues, and I’m tired of it! And when she comes here—and you remember what I’m saying —I’m going to make her act just as silly and crazy as I do! Wait and see if I don’t!” And she flung a pebble with a bang against a nearby pine-stump.
When she broke the silence, at last, the change in her tone and the new wistfulness in her face strangely touched her companion’s heart.
“You can’t remember how poor mother used to shock all Amboro, can you? She was a Southern woman, you know—and Amboro was always so much the other way! I must have taken it from her! I guess I’ll just have to go on cake-walking through life, for I hate hard work, and sewing and cooking and cleaning up and having to think and plan ahead!”
“A girl who can—can write poetry like yours doesn’t need to know all that sort of thing!” the repentant man mollified the egoistic young pagan at his side, just because she was such a sad and beautiful young pagan.
D UT her lightness of spirit did not come back to her until they had made away with their luncheon and were strolling along the fringes of the little island looking for pond lilies. As they sauntered on, and rested, and idled the time away, she cunningly wove a garland of bright-colored oak-leaves. Then, while he sat gazing into a little bay of translucent amber water, she took his black wide-awake from his head, with her girlishly conciliating laugh, and in its place put there the crown of oak-leaves.
“I am a wood-nymph, you see,” she said, as she knelt beside him, “and you are the wood-god, Pan, and I’m crowning you with leaves that came from some old Ionian forest!”
“Oh, I say!” he demurred.
“No, don’t touch it! Don’t dare!” she cried, imperiously.
“But I prefer-”
“It’s lovely! It makes you look as young and romantic as a Greek god!”
The man of science became more lenient.
“And will probably give me a bully old sunstroke before the afternoon’s out!” he still protested, however, feeling gingerly at his strange head-dress.
“Oh, you scientist!” she cried in scorn.
“But even scientists take to hats now and then!”
“Hats! Haven’t you any imagination? Can’t you keep in the picture, for once? And it’s much nicer and cooler than that old black thing, if you’d only acknowledge it!”
So rather than hurt her feelings, or disrupt her illusions, he wore the oak-leaves meekly, whilst she wove a second garland for herself, of leaves and flowers intertwined. Then she made a mirror, by polishing the bottom of a pie-pan with earth, and viewed herself therein with supreme and undisguised admiration. It was not misplaced, the young Professor decided, as he looked at the vital and slender figure, the flushed and nymphlike face, crowned with woodland leaves.
“Now, I’m going to have a wand, like this, and with it conjure to your feet all those water-lilies over there, that look like white and golden stars!”
CHE tripped out on a fallen pine-log ^ that lay along the water’s edge, and waved her stick towards the tranquil lilies, blinking so sleepily up at the afternoon sky. She leaned out and stretched towards them, but they were beyond her reach.
“Help me, Pan,” she cried.
He followed her out on the log, but even at the end of his own long arm the wand was too short.
“Oh, I know,” she exclaimed, abandonedly. “I’ll wade in after them!”
“I—I shouldn’t think of that!” warned the other, now older and wiser in past experience.
“Who cares!” demanded the emancipated Sybil.
“But isn’t that the public road just over the brow of the hill there?” he remonstrated.
“Well, it won’t kill them!” retorted the paganized one.
“Let me try it first, with this longer pole!” suggested the man of science and discretion.
He did try. He leaned far out, and could just sweep the closest lily-head.
“There, I’ve got it!” he exclaimed, in triumph.
The lily-head broke off short, and the carefully balanced pole swung free again. But with the unexpected swing of that pole its wielder lost his precarious equilibrium, gyrated with fluttering arms for one undecided moment, and then fell floundering into the amber-tinted water.
TT was not Sybil’s cry alone that he heard
as he struggled and scrambled to get a footing on the muddy bottom, for the water was scarcely four feet in depth. There fell on his ears, as he came to the surface and fought through the tangled lily-stalks for safer footing, a second and
more distant cry. He paid little attention to it, at first, for his mind was taken up with his efforts to reach dry land. He was equally alive to the ignominy of his position, and his first tangible thought was one of gratitude that Sybil alone was a witness of his dilemma. His next lucid feeling was one of wonder that his leafcrowned companion should betray so little concern over his plight, and should be standing there staring across the river, instead of offering to give him a friendly hand up on the pine log.
The water was muddy, and made his eyes smart, and it was not until he had drawn himself up and sat on the end of the log blinking in the strong sunlight, that he gave his attention to his surroundings.
“Anne!” he heard the startled Sybil crying out. “Anne, is that you? Oh, you darling Anne!”
A sudden hot passion of resentment swept over the young Professor of Anthropology. His hand went up to his bedraggled wreath of plaited oak-leaves. He looked down at his sodden and dripping suit of cricketer’s-flannel. He shook the mud from his water-soaked boots. He was being humiliated and made to look ridiculous!
Then he glanced up; and he saw that it was Anne.
It was not the staid and sombre Anne that he had last seen in Amboro, but a new Anne, a figure in raiment quite as gay and summery as his own had been. Above it shimmered a pale rose silk parasol.
(To be continued.)