By A. A. MILNE
I. An Opening.
WHEN I have shaken hands with my hostess and apologised for being so late, I never know what to do next. Some men make a beeline for the son of the house and ask him what's for dinner, but I have been better brought up. Generally I find myself standing first on one leg and then on the other, fingering my tie, and wondering if there is anyone present who would like me to point out that the day has been a beautiful one.
I was carrying on in this way when my host came up to me.
"You're taking in Miss Daintry," he said. "I don't think you know her." He brought me up to a lonely girl and explained: "This is Mr. William Denny." I bowed and said to myself: "Her nose is too short." It is not, of course, a remark which one makes aloud. I then prepared to say something pleasant to her.
"Are you the William Denny?" she said brightly, just as I was thinking of something.
As soon as the ice is broken, I am all right. Anyway, I am always fluent—and, I think, well informed—on the subject of myself.
"I seem to be to-night," I said. I wondered who the other—the famous William Denny—was, or if she could possibly have read my little brochure—or book, as ordinary people say—called "The Road to Happiness." My theory of happiness is roughly that—— But you will understand it better if you buy the book. It costs two shillings and sixpence, and the publishers give me a penny or so for myself every six months, according to whether one or two copies have been sold.
"I always ask everybody that," smiled Miss Daintry. "It's much the best way of beginning."
I looked at her in surprise.
"Do you mean you've never heard of any sort of a William Denny at all?"
"Not any sort. Are there lots of you?"
"Yes. No. I don't—— Hallo, they're all going in!" I gave her my arm. "Now," I said, on the stairs, "please explain."
"Well, it's like this," said Miss Daintry. "Suppose Mr. John Brown is introduced to me. Well, of course, I might say: 'What a lovely day it's been! Have you done anything exciting?'"
"You might," I agreed, and I shuddered to think how nearly I had said it myself.
"And it isn't a bad opening, either. Because if he says 'Golf,' then I ask him what his handicap is, and how many bunkers he's been into, and so on all through dinner. And if he says 'Only work,' then I say pleasantly, 'Is that exciting?' and, of course, he tells me all about it, which may take weeks. One way or another there's bound to be conversation."
"Mostly by him."
"Oh, well, I do my share." We found our seats, and she went on: "Well, this year I thought I'd try and get a little more fun out of it. So, as soon as we're introduced, I say in an interested voice: 'Oh, are you the John Brown?'"
"You mean the one whose soul goes marching along?"
Miss Daintry smiled and accepted some soup.
"Well, let's call him John Smith," she said. "I say: 'Are you the John Smith?' Then he can do one of two things. He can be funny." She stopped and helped herself to toast.
"I don't quite see how he can be funny," I said thoughtfully. "At least, it doesn't come to me at the moment."
"Well, he might be jocular."
I tried to think of something jocular for him, but failed. Still, that doesn't say that some other John Smith mightn't have had a dash. "All right," I agreed, "he might be jocular. Next."
"Next he might be pleasantly—er—pleasantly courteous." She gave me half a smile and added, "Like you. I mean," she explained, "he might be rather nice, and and ready and——"
"I know," I said. "Like me."
"But in nine cases out of ten he just tells me all about himself. He says with a modest smile: 'So you've read my book?'"
I blushed into my soup. I could see the rich tomato reflection.
"What a conceited thing to say!" I exclaimed loudly, and began to eat a lot of bread.
"Oh, men are perfectly lovely when they talk about themselves!" said Miss Daintry happily.
I looked at her again, and decided that her nose wasn't too short—it was just short enough.
"I wonder," I said, "how it would work if the man talked first. Let's just try, shall we?"
"All right," said Miss Daintry, with a smile waiting at the corners of her eyes.
"We'll suppose we've just been introduced. H'm! Are you the Miss Daintry?"
"So you've read my book?" she said modestly.
"I'm afraid not. I have very little time for reading. What is it called?"
"'Dinner Table Topics,'" she laughed.
"Ah! And the author's name?"
"Rosemary!" I murmured to myself.
She waited for the next question.
"No," I said. "That's all—that's all I wanted to know."
Rosemary! I liked the name. And, since her nose wasn't too short, I liked the face. I decided that one day I would tell her all about myself.
II. Establishing Relations.
"Mr. William Denny," said a superior gentleman with brass buttons all over him. So I walked into the drawing-room.
Miss Daintry looked up in surprise.
"The William Denny," I explained nervously.
"How do you do?" she said, holding out her hand with a smile. But she still looked surprised.
"My hat and stick," I said, when I had shaken her hand and returned it to her, "are in a strategic position in the hall. I can get to them immediately. Say the word, and I am downstairs and out of the front door in a flash." I waited anxiously.
Miss Daintry continued to regard me with an air of wonder.
"This is a formal call," I said hopefully. "I mean I've come to ask for a subscription for the waits. Or, to put it another way, I know your uncle very well. I'm afraid I've come to the wrong house. I—— Oh, can't you see how nervous I am? Do let me sit down and tell you all about it."
Rosemary laughed out loud. Then she indicated a chair, and I sat down gratefully.
"I am so sorry," she said. "But I was wondering whether I oughtn't to pretend I didn't recognise you. Supposing I had said, 'Let me see, didn't we meet at the Warringtons'?' Would you have gone?"
"I should have departed," I said.
"Yes. The bother is, I remember you perfectly well. To make it worse, I was reading your book when you came in. To make it still worse——"
"One moment," I said, whipping out a pencil. "Did you buy it or did you get it from the library?"
"I bought it."
I made a note on my cuff.
"To keep a check on the publishers," I explained.
"And to make it still worse," Rosemary went on gravely, "I was thinking of writing to the author of the book and saying how much I liked it. Isn't it awful?"
"Awful! I don't know what your great-grandmother would have said."
"So, you see, I couldn't very well turn you out, could I?" She smiled encouragingly at me. "But, all the same, I shall like to hear what you're going to say. You must have some reason for coming."
The superior gentleman entered at this moment with an accomplice, and proceeded to arrange the tea. There was an interval while I explained how much sugar I liked, asked for it a little weaker, ate a couple of sandwiches, gave away another, and balanced a fourth on my saucer. Then I ventured into my explanation.
"This," I said, "is my after-dinner call."
"Let's see," said Rosemary, with her head on one side, "when did you dine with us?"
"Never—at least, not yet. One still hopes. But I dined with the Carews last week. Now, an after-dinner call is, I take it, a way of expressing thanks. 'In return for your delightful caviare last Thursday' one says to one's hostess, 'I have come to show you my new spats.' Isn't that so?"
"Well, something like that."
"Yes. But supposing the thing which struck one most about the dinner was not the caviare, but the conversation of one's partner, then one might say to oneself, 'I dined last Thursday, not with Mrs. Carew, but with Miss Daintry,' and it would be to Miss Daintry that one's after-dinner call would be due."
"Yes," said Rosemary, "but it wouldn't prevent one saying, 'Where on earth does the creature live?"
"Oh, that was child's play. I looked you up in the telephone book."
"But we aren't the only Daintrys."
"My dear lady—don't you hate being called 'my dear lady'? It's what bishops always say. I ought to pat your hand, really—my dear lady, I once met Conan Doyle. I know all about inductive reasoning."
"Oh, do tell me how it's done!" pleaded Rosemary.
"It's quite easy," I said. "There are nine Daintrys in the book. A priori, as Sherlock used to puzzle Watson by saying, you might be any one of those nine. But the first five were A. H. Daintry and Co., plumbers, so that washed five out."
"I don't see why my father shouldn't sell plums," complained Miss Daintry.
"Even if he did," I pointed out, "I shouldn't call at the orchard and expect to meet his daughter. You were bound to be one of the other four. The first was John Daintry, artist; the second was Henry Daintry, artist. An artistic family the Daintrys. But was Miss Rosemary Daintry the daughter of either of them?"
"Yes," pleaded Rosemary, "let me be an artist's daughter."
"I looked them up in 'Who's Who.' John was there. He painted that remarkable picture 'Slice of Lemon on Plate,' purchased by the Middlesborough Art Gallery; his recreations are polo and stamp-collecting; his age is fifty-seven, and he has two sons. Two sons," I said sternly, "and no daughter."
"Bother!" said Rosemary. "Still, what about Henry?"
"Henry was not in 'Who's Who' at all. No one I spoke to had ever heard of Henry; no one had ever seen his pictures. It was impossible that so unsuccessful an artist as Henry should support a grown-up daughter."
"She might have sat for him," said Rosemary, "and earned her keep that way."
"Then he would have sold his pictures," I said, looking at her thoughtfully, "and Henry didn't. No, you were either the daughter of C. E. Daintry, of Queen Anne's Gate, or of Reginald Daintry, of Norfolk Street. Yesterday afternoon I had a sudden intuition that you lived in Norfolk Street."
"How funny!" said Rosemary. "How did the intuition come?"
"It came yesterday afternoon," I said, "as I was being urged out of the drawing-room of Queen Anne's Gate."
III. A Friendly Meeting.
I was passing the British Museum when the thunderstorm broke. My umbrella was new—a young one, out for the first time—and I did not want to get it damp. Besides, what is one umbrella against the majesty of Heaven? So I pushed my way through the pigeons and went inside. An attendant took my umbrella from me.
"Be careful with it," I said. "This is the first time it has left its father. Don't let it have the indiarubber ring; it's so unhealthy for it."
I left him and wandered upstairs. There are, of course, other things than mummies in the British Museum, but it is to the Egyptian Rooms that I always make my way when it rains. For once I was rewarded. Standing opposite the case of one of the most notorious of our mummies was—
"Allow me to introduce you," I said, stepping up briskly. "Miss Rosemary Daintry—my aunt, the Princess Ra."
Rosemary turned round quickly.
"Why, it's Mr. Denny!" she said. "How do you do?"
"How do you do? Everybody is at the British Museum to-day."
"Yes, but what are they all doing? I'm here on business, only I'm doing it very badly. Perhaps you can help me."
I began to look as capable as possible.
"It's like this. There's a book called 'The Beginnings of Assyrian Ethnology.' Do you know it?"
"By heart. I sleep with it under my pillow every night."
"It's in' twenty volumes," went on Rosemary gravely.
"Who should know it better than I?" I said sadly. "Doctors are baffled by my insomnia, but I dare not tell them the truth. I have got to love the book so much that I cannot be parted from it. In the daytime I carry it—I mean it follows me in a lorry—everywhere."
"Oh, well, that's splendid, because now you can tell me the real name. I came to look up something in it for father, and I know it was something about ethnology, but I've got the name of the book wrong." She waited expectantly.
I thought for a moment with my head on one side.
"No," I said, "no, I've never heard of the book. I misunderstood you. I thought you were referring to the poems of Ella Wheeler Wilcox."
"I knew you couldn't help me," she said.
"I wasn't sure that I could myself, but I was determined to try. 'Always be helpful'—that's the motto of the Dennys. When we came over with William the Conqueror—I should say, when William the Conqueror came over with us—it was Guillaume de Saint-Denys who pointed to the shore and said to William: 'This is England, sire.' He recognised it from the maps."
"Yes," said Rosemary, "but that still doesn't explain what you're doing here now."
"No, it doesn't, does it? It ought to, but it doesn't. The truth is—and I say this without prejudice to anything I may think of later on—the truth is, I came here to meet Miss Daintry."
"We must have had an assignation," said Rosemary remorsefully, "and I had forgotten it."
"It wasn't an assignation; it was just a sort of feeling that Thursday was your day for the British Museum. Monday, I told myself, the Zoo; Tuesday, the Tower of London; Wednesday, a little needlework at home; but Thursday—well, here we are."
"I believe you only came in because it was raining."
"Let us rather say that it only rained because Miss Daintry was in the British Museum and Mr. Denny happened to be passing."
"Said he gallantly," smiled Rosemary. "A quotation from your next magazine story."
"From 'The Beginnings of Assyrian Ethnology,' Book VII., Chap. 16," I corrected her. "That was the reference Mr. Daintry wanted, I expect. Do you think, now that we've found it, we might——" I hesitated, not quite knowing how to put it. "Do you ever have tea?" I said.
"You saw me having it only the other day. Don't say you've forgotten."
"There you are, then. I owe you seven sandwiches, two cups of tea, and a piece of cake. There's a refreshment room here somewhere, but probably they only give you marble tops to the tables—and watercress. If we went outside, I could pay my debt properly, and I could also show you my new umbrella. I lent it to an attendant when I came in, but he's promised to give it me back when I go out."
"Tea would be rather jolly," said Rosemary thoughtfully, but with a bit of a smile lurking somewhere. "Do you know that it's only ten days ago that I first met you at dinner?"
"We always seem to be having meals together, don't we?" I said cheerfully. "One can talk so much better when one is eating—I mean, of course, in the intervals. But to speak seriously, to quote again from the immortal work, Book VIII., Chap. 16, 'I should be very much honoured, Miss Daintry, if you would take a dish of tea with me,' said he, with a low bow. This," I added, "is the 'low bow.'" And, looking round to see that the policeman wasn't watching, I took off my hat and bowed low to her. "Do come."
Rosemary nodded her head slowly at me.
"Miss Daintry," she said, "has much pleasure in accepting Mr. Denny's kind piece of cake."
IV. A Secret.
For a week I had not seen Rosemary. A whole week had passed—had, indeed, elapsed— without a single invitation from her. Dinner-parties, wedding receptions, dances, christening ceremonies, funerals—at none of these had the pleasure of Mr. William Denny's company been looked for by Mr. and Miss Daintry. One wondered what the younger generation was coming to.
However, two days later, things began to move. At four o'clock of a fine afternoon Miss Daintry might have been seen tripping lightly down Regent Street, and five yards behind her, padding sleuth-like in her track, came a tall man of handsome exterior. Could it have been W. Denny? It was.
Rosemary stopped and looked critically at a hat in the window. W. Denny slipped past and looked critically at a shop-walker in the next window. Rosemary moved on. Mr. Denny turned round and hurried back in the direction from which he had been coming. He had forgotten his umbrella, perhaps.
"Hallo!" said Rosemary, her face lighting up.
"Well," I said, "this is a surprise!"
"I'm buying a birthday present," she volunteered. "Something for a father. But I can't think what he wants. If you aren't going in entirely the other direction, you might walk along and make brilliant suggestions."
We walked along.
"Fathers are very difficult to give things to," I agreed. "They always have everything. It's disgusting the way they indulge themselves."
"I generally give him a book. He just lives in his library."
"What about a bull-terrier this year, for a change?" I suggested hopefully. "We must get him out of his groove."
"Try again," she said.
I tried again.
"A sword-stick?" I said, after profound thought.
Rosemary looked doubtful.
"The advantage of a sword-stick," I pointed out, "is that if you are attacked suddenly by a madman, you—— Well, probably the spring doesn't work. There is that, of course. But you get a good notice in the papers. 'Mr. Daintry, who would have defended himself vigorously, if the safety-catch hadn't got stuck, leaves a daughter and a bull-terrier to mourn him.' Oh, I was forgetting he refused the bull-terrier."
"And the sword-stick, I am afraid," smiled Rosemary.
I sighed sadly.
"Wouldn't you call him rather a particular man?" I asked. "One can't please him. Of course, you really ought to have been knitting him something ever since last birthday, and hiding it under the sofa cushions when he came in. It almost looks as though it would have to be books again, doesn't it?"
"It does, I'm afraid. The question is, what book?"
I looked up at the sky. It's very awkward when anybody says "What book?" to the man who has written "The Road to Happiness," price two shillings and sixpence at all booksellers, or direct from the publishers, Messrs.——
"Yes," said Rosemary, "but I've given him that one already."
Wonderful intuition women have! I hadn't said a word.
"Why not give him another copy?" I suggested, "in case the first copy wears out."
"Much as he admires the author, whom he particularly wants to meet——"
"He shall," I said firmly.
"He thought you might come down to our country cottage for a week-end," Rosemary explained parenthetically.
"I should love to."
"Hooray! Well, much as—— I've lost that sentence. Where was I up to?"
"You were saying how your father admired me. Dwell on that for a little. I shan't mind."
"What I really want to dwell on is some tea," she said. "It's your turn to have tea with me. If you're one of those manly men who can't bear the idea of a woman ever paying for anything, then you'd better say so now, to avoid a scene inside."
"I should love you to pay for me," I said; "and I'd better warn you—it's my day for cream buns."
We had a very jolly tea—one more meal with Rosemary. Towards the end of it she took a newspaper cutting from her purse. I leant forward with interest.
"Read that," she said. "I cut it out of the paper this morning."
"It's a penal offence, defacing papers in the public libraries," I protested. "But perhaps you take it in privately?"
"We do," said Rosemary severely. "We did even when it was threepence," she added, with a grand air.
"Then I'm glad you're paying for tea. Now, then, what's this about?"
It was a cutting from the Agony Column.
"If Henry S. Boldero will be at the Oxford Circus Tube at 3.45 p.m. this afternoon, with—you know what—the man in the false whiskers standing by the bookstall will be ready to receive it."
"Well?" I said.
"You remember I told you the other day how I always read the Agony Column, and what fun it would be to keep one of the assignations, and see what happened? Well, I kept this one."
"What happened?" I asked eagerly.
"I don't know. There was a huge crowd—I suppose they'd all read that paper—and, after a bit, I came away. That was just before I met you."
"Ah," I said profoundly, "I expect it was a secret code, and meant something quite different."
"Do you really think so?" said Rosemary.
"I really do."
And I did. In fact, I knew. It meant: "I love you, and I must see you again soon. You read the Agony Column—you told me so. Then read this, and come to see what it means, just for fun. I shall be there, too."
I put my hand in my waistcoat pocket and fingered the receipt from the paper.
"Yes," I said, "I expect it's a bit of a secret."
V. Sunday in the Country.
I don't know if you have ever been in love. If you have, you will understand how wonderful it is to wake up in the morning and realise suddenly that she, the beloved one, is for the first time under the same roof as yourself. No hopeless prayers that there shall be a letter from her to-day; no lingering forlorn in the Park, on the chance that she will pass. You have only to dress and go down to breakfast, and there she is bound to be. Very likely she will ask you to pass the marmalade. Could anything be more delightful?
"What would you like to do?" asked Mr. Daintry, after breakfast.
"Well——" I said doubtfully.
"You must just do whatever you like," he said, and retired to the library.
"What father really means," explained Rosemary, "is, do you want to go to church or not? He doesn't mean, would you rather go up in an aeroplane, or play polo, or swim the Channel. So, if there's anything like that which you want to do, you must be polite and try to forget about it. I told you there was nothing to do here, didn't I?"
"Yes, but I like doing nothing. Is there a church anywhere about?"
"There's one about three miles away."
"Well, I should love not going to that."
"It's Early Norman," said Rosemary reproachfully.
"Then we should certainly be too late for it. Let's go for a walk, and you can show me all the sights. We can take the church cautiously, from the outside, on our way back."
"In half an hour, then. I must put on a shorter skirt, or I shall be one of the sights myself."
And so, half an hour later, we started.
"I ought to warn you," I said, "I know very little about the country. I don't know if a cuckoo-wort is a bird or a—a wort."
"What is a cuckoo-wort?" said Rosemary.
"That's just it—I don't know. But I feel it must be something. And probably to-day's just the day when it will be in flower—I mean in song. So if I don't say anything about it, you mustn't think that I don't admire it. May I borrow a stick of Mr. Daintry's, in case we're attacked by anything?"
"Here you are. Now, which way shall we go?"
"Anywhere. Round and round the stables. I don't mind a bit on a day like this."
"I thought we might try Pulman's Gap."
"Do let's. And then, if it turns out that there isn't such a place, we can come home again."
We set off hopefully. Gap or no Gap, it was good to be out with Rosemary.
"Don't you really know much about the country?" she asked suddenly.
"I know more about London."
She looked at me with a smile.
"Really, I know very little about you, don't I?"
"Name of Denny," I explained.
"Yes, that's almost all I'm sure of."
"Christian name, William; commonly called Billy. This leads to a huge joke. When people say to you, 'Do you know Billy Denny?' you answer, 'Yes, isn't that the stuff people put into their eyes?' thus causing great merriment."
"What else is there? Publications: 'The Road to——' No, I feel sure I've mentioned that before. It's a funny thing how the conversation always comes round to my book. I try desperately hard to avoid it. I start talking about the most unlikely things, such as cuckoo-worts, but, somehow or other, I always end up with the name of my publishers. And yet I am not a conceited man. I——"
"Have you written any other books?"
"I am writing one. Mr. William Denny is at present engaged upon a full-length novel. It's rather exciting. You just go on until you're stuck, and then you begin a new chapter with 'Meanwhile——' Life is rather jolly, don't you think?"
"It's heavenly," said Rosemary, "What made you suddenly say so?"
"Oh, just the weather and the country, and talking to you, and talking about myself. I don't see what else one wants."
Rosemary was silent.
"I wish you'd tell me something," I said, after a pause.
"Perhaps I will. What is it?"
"When they christened you Rosemary, how did they know you were going to look like Rosemary when you grew up?"
Rosemary stared at me, utterly astonished, and yet it was a simple enough question.
"When they christened you Rosemary——" I began again.
She gave a little laugh and turned away.
"That's Pulman's Gap over there," she said.
I took my hat off to it.
"I suppose," I went on, "they gave you a name like Madge as well, to fall back upon, and then they thought you'd be safe, either way."
She continued to look over the fields at Pulman's Gap.
"I just wanted to know," I said humbly.
Rosemary turned round to me with a pleasant smile.
"I'm sorry," she said, "but you took me by surprise. I didn't know we were talking about me; I thought you were telling me about yourself."
(Oh, Rosemary, Rosemary, I am telling you about myself now, and you know it!)
"Myself," I said. "Well, I give you my nurse's verdict. 'Master William may not be handsome, nor clever, to speak of, but he have got a cheek.'"
"I agree with some of that," she said.
VI. The End and the Beginning.
"This is our dance," I said to Rosemary. "Come along."
"I don't think so," she smiled. "I'm dancing this with"—she consulted her programme—"Mr. Twigg."
"Twigg? Oh, I know Twigg—at least, I know his family tree. You can't dance with him!"
"But I promised."
"Yes, but where is he? Where are the twigs of yester-year? Gone with the leaves of Vallombrosa. His last words were: Denny, old man, lend me half-a-crown for a taxi. My aunt's ill.' That's his aunt on the other branch … I wish you wouldn't dance with people called Twigg. It's so easy to make up things about them."
Rosemary looked round the room hopefully. "He's a stout man with an eye-glass. I don't see him."
"What's the good of his having an eye-glass if you can't see him?"
"He must have forgotten me. It seems rather a pity to waste this dance, doesn't it?"
"It does," I said firmly. "Come on."
We came on.
It was my first dance with Rosemary. Oh, the nearness and the dearness of her!
"You're twenty something, and I'm twenty something, and we've never danced together before," I said at the end of it. "I don't know what's coming to the world."
"It's coming all right now," said Rosemary.
We found a shady corner. I had known, when I was dressing that evening, that it would have to be done now.
"Rosemary," I said—believe me, a little queerly, as though it was somebody else speaking, and I was listening to him.
"I—I love you!" the absurd voice went on, and said it again and again, making an anthem of it.
Rosemary said nothing.
The ridiculous fellow went on. I tried to push him away and assert myself, but he stuck to it. It was stupid of him, because I had planned some delightful things to say to Rosemary—the sort of things that Lewis Waller says. But then he knows what the lady is going to answer—it's in the prompt book—and that makes it easier for him. A hint of independence, and he sends for the understudy.
"I love you!" said the muffled voice again.
"Oh," said Rosemary, "don't! I don't know. It's absurd!"
At the word "absurd" the usurper collapsed altogether, and I stepped back into myself and took command.
"We hardly know each other at all," Rosemary went on.
"We never shall until we get married," I said. "We could meet a hundred times, and we'd know just as much of each other as we do now. Perhaps at the fifty-eighth time it might come out that I sang a bit, and at the seventy-fourth time that you had an uncle in the Diplomatic Service. We needn't wait for that. I'll sing now, if you like. You see, you don't get engaged because you know a person, but because you want to know them."
"I don't know. I am afraid," said Rosemary wistfully. "I think I'm a little afraid of men."
"I promise you it will be all right; I won't let you down, really. Besides, both our names begin with a 'D,' so that you needn't have new initials put on your luggage. And if you've got 'D—Y' on any of your handkerchiefs, then that will be all right, too. We can even allow you an 'n' in the middle. You can't do that when you marry Twiggs. Oh, Rosemary, Just try saying 'Billy!'"
"I've never even thought of you as anything but Mr. Denny," she said.
"Then begin with William. Say 'William—William—William—William—William!' like that to yourself, and after a bit 'Billy' will come quite easily to you."
"Oh, I must talk to somebody about it! Father likes you, I know."
"And I like him. When we are married, we will often meet him at the British Museum. And I'll go and talk to him to-morrow. It isn't only the three and fourpence from my publishers; I've got other money, too. We shall have about five and ninepence altogether. I'm sure Mr. Daintry will be satisfied. What shall I call him when we're married? What a pity he isn't a major, and then I could say 'Colonel.' They like that. I suppose I shall have to call him 'Hi!'"
"Oh, Billy, Billy," said Rosemary, "you do talk! I love to listen to you now. Shall I love to listen to you always?"
"There's an awful lot of listening in marriage," I said.
She was silent for a little, and then said suddenly—
"Oh, why did you do this at a dance? You don't really mean it—proposals at dances mean nothing."
That did make me laugh.
"I love listening to you," I said, "when you talk such heavenly rubbish! Meet me in the Park to-morrow morning at eight o'clock. It's sure to be wet, and then you shall have a proposal before breakfast in the rain. 'Carried away by hunger and the gentle trickle down his neck, Mr. Denny flung himself at her feet.' Oh, Rosemary, silly girl, it isn't the glamour of the dance—it's the glamour of you!"
"Is it?" said Rosemary, turning to me eagerly. "Say that again."
But I didn't. Before I could say anything, that other silly person rushed up and took Rosemary into his arms and told her his old story again. And somehow she didn't seem afraid.
Copyright, 1915, by A. A. Milne, in the United States of America.