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“I suppose so. It is hardly worth while to be angry with you. I shall be a thousand miles away next week. I could not carry my resentment so far. It would cool on the journey.”

“A thousand miles is not far for the Vendetta, Miss Leland. She 佛山南海桑拿论坛交流 would make light of crossing the Pacific—for a worthy motive.”

“I don’t know anything about motives; but I thought you were fairly established at the Mount, and that you had made an end of your wanderings.”佛山桑拿按摩休闲中心

“The Mount is only delightful—I might say endurable—when I have neighbours at the Angler’s Nest.”

“Martin will let this house, perhaps, and you may have pleasant neighbours in the new people.”

“I am not like the domestic cat. It is not houses I care for, but individuals. My affections would not transfer themselves to the new tenants.”

“How can you tell that? You think of them to-night as strangers—and they seem intolerable. You would like them after a week, and be warmly attached to them at the end of a month. Why, you have known us for less than three months, and we fancy ourselves quite old friends.”

“Oh, Miss Leland, is 佛山桑拿会所600全套 our friendship only fancy? Will a thousand miles make you forget me?”

“No, we could not any of us be so ungrateful as to forget you,” answered Allegra, struggling against growing embarrassment, wondering if this tender tone, these vague nothings, were drifting towards a declaration, or were as simply meaningless as much of the talk between men and women. “We can’t forget how kind you have been, and what delightful excursions we have had on the Vendetta.”

“The Vendetta will be at San Remo when you want her, Allegra. She will be as much at your command there as she has been here; and her skipper will be as much your[Pg 212] slave as he is here—as he has been almost ever since he saw your face.”

This was not small talk. This meant something very serious. He had called her Allegra, and she had not reproved him; he had taken her hand and she had not withdrawn it. In the next instant, she knew not how, his arm was round her waist, and her head, weary with the long day’s work and anxieties, was resting contentedly on his shoulder, while his lips set their first kiss, tenderly, reverently almost, on her fair broad brow.

“Allegra, this means yes, does it not? Our lives have flowed on together so peacefully, so happily, since last October. They are to mingle and flow on together to the great sea, are they not, love—the sea of death and eternity.”

“Do you really care for me?”

“Do I really adore you? Yes, dear love. With all my power of adoration.”

“But you must have cared for other girls before now. I can’t believe that I am the first.”

“Believe, at least, that you will be the last, as you are the only woman I ever asked to be my wife.”

“Is that really, really true?”

“It is true as the needle to the north.”

“Yet they say that sailors——”

“Are generally tolerable dancers, and popular in a ball-room, especially when they are the givers of the ball—that they can talk to pretty women

without feeling abashed—and that they contrive to get through a good deal of flirting without singeing their wings. I have waltzed with a good many nice girls in my time, Allegra, and I have sat out a good many waltzes. Yet I am here at your side, honestly and devotedly your own; and I have never loved any other woman with the love I feel for you. No other woman has ever held my whole heart; no, not for a single hour.”

“You make nice distinctions,” said Allegra, gently disengaging herself from his arm, and looking at him with a faint, shy smile, very doubtful, yet very anxious to believe.[Pg 213] “I am dreadfully afraid that all this fine talk means nothing more than you would say to any of your partners, if you happened to be sitting out a waltz.”

“Should I ask any of my partners to be my wife, do you think?”

“Oh, you can withdraw that to-morrow—forget and 广州佛山桑拿全套 ignore it. We may both consider it only a kind of under-the-mistletoe declaration, meaning no more than a mistletoe kiss. I believe when English people were domestic and kept Christmas, the head of the family would have kissed his cook if he had met her under the mistletoe.”

“Allegra, is it not cruel of you to be jocose when I am so tremendously serious?”

“What if I don’t believe in your seriousness?”

“Is this only a polite way of refusing me?” he asked, beginning to be offended, not understanding that this nonsense-talk was a hasty defence against overpowering emotion, that she was not sure of him, and was desperately afraid of betraying herself. “Am I to understand that you don’t care a straw for me?”

“No, no, no,” she cried eagerly, “as a friend, I like you better than any one else in the world; only I don’t want to give you 佛山桑拿按摩论坛07 more than friendship till I can trust you well enough to believe in your love.”

“Prove it, Allegra,” he cried, clasping her waist again before she was aware. “Put me to any test or any trial—impose any duty upon me. Only tell me that if I come through the ordeal you will be my wife.”

“You are not in a great hurry to fetter yourself, I hope?” she said.

“I am in a hurry—I long for those sweet fetters by which your love will hold me. I want to be anchored by my happiness.”

“Give me a year of freedom, a year for art and earnest work in Italy, a year for Martin and Isola, who both want me; and if this night year you are still of the same mind, I will be your wife. I will not engage you. You may be as[Pg 214] free as air to change your mind and love some one else; but I will promise to be true to you and to this talk of ours till 佛山桑拿按摩感受 the year’s end—one year from to-night.”

“I accept your sentence, though it is severe; but I don’t accept my freedom. I am your slave for a year. I shall be your slave when the year is out. I am yours, and yours alone for life. And now give me that cup of tea, Allegra, which you have not poured out yet, and let us fancy ourselves Darby and Joan.”

“Darby and Joan,” echoed Allegra, as she filled his cup. “Must we be like that: old and prosy, sitting by the fire, while life goes by us outside? It seems sad that there should be no alternative between slow decay and untimely death.”

“It is sad; but the world is made so. And then Providence steeps elderly people in a happy hallucination. They generally forget that they are old; or at least they forget that they ever were young, and they think young people so ineffably silly that 佛山夜生活社交app youth itself seems despicable to their sober old minds. But you and I have a long life to the good, dear love, before the coming of grey hairs and elderly prejudices.”

And then he began to talk of ways and means, as if they were going to be married next week.

“We shall have enough for bread and cheese,” he said. “I am better off than a good many younger sons; for a certain old grandfather of mine provided for the younger branches. It is quite possible that Lostwithiel may never marry—indeed, he seems to me very decided against matrimony, and in that case those who come after us must inherit title and estate in days to come.”

“Pray don’t talk so,” cried Allegra, horrified. “It sounds as if you were speculating upon your brother’s death.”

“On Lostwithiel’s death? Not for worlds. God bless him, wherever he may be. You don’t know 黄岐南海桑拿 how fond we two fellows are of each other. Only when a man is going to be married it behoves him to think even of the remote future. I shall have to talk to the colonel, remember; and he will expect me to be business-like.”

[Pg 215]

“I hope you don’t think Martin mercenary,” said Allegra. “There never was a man who set less value on money. It wouldn’t make any difference to him if you had not a penny. And as for me, I have a little income from my mother—more than enough to buy frocks and things—and beyond that I can earn my own living. So you really needn’t trouble yourself about me.”