Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/109

This page needs to be proofread.


best girl, of course. Have a drop of cognac, old man,” and he filled Herbert’s tiny glass. “It may help you tell the whole truth before you get through.”

“No,” returned Herbert calmly, pushing the cognac from him, a peculiar tenderness in his voice; “not my best girl, Louis, but a gray-haired woman of sixty—one I shall never forget.”

Madame laid her hand quickly on Herbert’s arm; she had caught the note in his voice.

“Oh! I’m so glad!” she said. “I love stories of old women; I always have. Please go on.”

“If I could have made her young again, madame, you would perhaps have liked my story better.”

“Why? Is it very sad?”

“Yes and no. It is not, I must say, exactly an after-dinner story, and but that it illustrates precisely how difficult it is sometimes to speak the truth, I would not tell it at all. Shall I go on?”

“Yes, please do,” she pleaded, a tremor now in her own voice. It was astonishing how simple and girlish she could be when her sympathies were aroused.