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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/145

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joke of my own," he said, and he went on laughing in the most annoying fashion.

"How mean of you!" exclaimed Lydia. "Mamma, don't you think he might tell us?"

"Lydia," said her mother, "as I have often said, you are consumed by a burning curiosity."

"And yet one would think," observed Floyd, "that a burnt child would dread the fire!"

"Both of you are quite horrid," said Lydia, "and I don't believe I'll read you Stewart's letter."

But after luncheon she relented a littleā€”so far as to read Floyd extracts from it, describing the two French friends he had already acquired and his rooms in the Rue Soufflot. "Why do you skip?" Floyd asked innocently, and was delighted to see her blush and hear her say, "Oh, Stewart gets silly here and it would n't interest you."

The horses were brought round; the groom held them while Floyd helped Lydia to mount. In her light, strong spring from his hand he caught as it were a more vital conception and possession of her personality, more vital than had been conveyed by the touch of her hand or the glance of her eyes. That instant he was flooded with the desire and the love that he had until then been trying to suppress.

He mounted and rode along the driveway by her side, silent and with his nerves throbbing. They trotted down to the park behind his grandfather's hill; here there was a bridle-path, and she gave her pony rein and dared him to catch her. With a sudden fierceness, the antidote to his sense of impotence, he gave chase and swept past her, sitting erect and ruthless, not drawing rein until he had distanced her by twenty yards. She cantered up to him, a little hurt and reproachful.

"You might have made it more of a race," she said, with an appealing smile that went to his heart.

"I guess I just forgot myself," he said humbly.