The Lightning Conductor/Chapter 6


MOLLY RANDOLPH TO HER FATHER

Amboise

November Something-or-Other

Dear old Lamb,

Did you know that you were the papa of a chameleon? An eccentric combination. But Aunt Mary says she has found out that I am one—a chameleon, I mean; but I don't doubt she thinks me an "eccentric combination" too. And, anyway, I don't see how I can help being changeable. Circumstances and motor-cars rule dispositions.

I wrote you a long letter from Blois, but little did I think then—no, that isn't the way to begin. I believe my starting-handle must have gone wrong, to say nothing of my valves—I mean nerves.

Last night we broke down at the other end of nowhere, and rather than desert Mr. Micawber, alias the automobile, I decided to stop till next morning at a wayside farmhouse—the sort of place, as Aunt Mary said, "where anything might happen."

Of course, I needn't have stayed. The Frenchman I told you about in my last letter offered to take us and some of our luggage on to Amboise on his little car; but I didn't feel like saying "yes" 'to that proposal, and I was sorry for poor Brown, who had worked like a Trojan. Besides, to stay was an adventure. Monsieur Talleyrand stopped too, and we had quite a nice supper in a big farm kitchen, but not as big as the room which the people gave Aunt Mary and me—a very decent room, with two funny high beds in it. I couldn't sleep much, because of remorse about something I had done. I'm ashamed to tell you what, but you needn't worry, for it only concerns the car. And then I didn't know in the least how we were to get on again next day, as this time the automobile had taken measures to secure itself a good long rest.

I'd dropped off to sleep after several hours of staring into the dark and wondering if Brown by some inspiration would get us out of our scrape, when a hand, trying to find my face, woke me up. "It's come!" I thought. "They're going to murder us." And I was just on the point of shrieking with all my might to Brown to save me, when I realized that the hand was Aunt Mary's; it was Aunt Mary's voice also saying, in a sharp whisper, "What's that? What's that?"

"That," I soon discovered, was a curious sound which I suppose had roused Aunt Mary, and sent her bounding out of bed, like a baseball, in her old age. I forgot to tell you that in one corner of our room, behind a calico curtain, was a queer, low green door, which we had wondered at and tried to open, but found locked. Now the sound was coming from behind that door. It was a scuffling and stumbling of feet, and a creepy, snorting noise.

Even I was frightened, but it wouldn't do, on account of discipline, to let Aunt Mary guess. I just sort of formed a hollow square, told myself that my country expected me to do my duty, jumped up, found matches, lighted our one candle, and with it the lamp of my own courage. That burned so brightly, I had presence of mind to take the key out of the other door and try it in the mysterious green lock. It didn't fit, but it opened the door; and what do you think was on the other side? Why, a ladder-like stairway, leading down into darkness. But it was only the darkness of the family stable, and instead of beholding our landlord and landlady digging a grave for us in a business-like manner, as Aunt Mary fully expected, we saw two cows and a horse, and three of those silly, surprised-looking French chickens which are always running across roads under our automobile's nose.

This was distinctly a relief. We locked the door, and laid ourselves down to sleep once more. But—for me—that was easier said than done. I lay staring into blackness, thinking of many things, until the blackness seemed to grow faintly pale, the way old Mammy Luke's face used to turn ashy when she was frightened at her own slave stories, which she was telling me. The two windows took form, like grey ghosts floating in the dark, and I knew dawn must be coming; but as I watched the squares growing more distinct, so that I was sure I saw and didn't imagine them, a light sprang up. It wasn't the dawn-light, but something vivid and sudden. I was bewildered, for I'd been in a dozy mood. I flew up, all dazed and stupid, to patter across the cold, painted floor on my poor little bare feet.

Our room overlooked the courtyard, and there, almost opposite the window where I stood, a great column of intense yellow flame was rising like a fountain of fire—straight as a poplar, and almost as high. I never saw anything so strange, and I could hardly believe that it wasn't a dream, until a voice seemed to say inside of me, "Why, it's your car that's on fire!"

In half a second I was sure the voice was right, and at once I was quite calm. How the car could have got on fire of its own accord was a mystery, unless it had spontaneous combustion, like that awful old man of Dickens, who burnt up and left a greasy black smudge; but there was no time to think, and I only kept saying to myself, as I hurried to slip on a few clothes (the sketchiest toilet I ever made, just a mere outline), how lucky it was that my automobile stood in the courtyard where there was no roof, instead of being in the barn, like Monsieur Talleyrand's. And I knew that Brown slept in the barn, so that, if it had happened there, he might have been burnt to death in his sleep, which made me feel as if I should have to faint away, even to imagine.

But I didn't faint. I tore out of the room, as soon as I was dressed, with my long, fur-lined motoring coat over my "nighty," and yelled "Fire!" at the top of my lungs. But I forgot to yell in French, so of course the farm people couldn't have understood what was the matter, unless they'd seen the light from their windows. It was still dark in the shut-up house, but somehow I found my way down-stairs, and to the door by which we'd all come trooping in the evening before. Nobody had appeared yet (though I fancied I heard Aunt Mary's frantic voice), so I concluded that the farmer and his wife must be outside in the fields about their day's work, for these French peasants rise with the dawn, or before it.

I pulled open the door, and the light of the fire struck right at my eyes, which had got used to the darkness in the passage. There was the pillar of fire, as bright and straight and amazingly high as ever, not a trace of the car to be seen in the midst; but silhouetted against the yellow screen of flame was a tall black figure which I recognized as Brown's. He was standing still, looking calmly on, actually with his hands in his pockets, instead of trying to put out the fire, and I was dumbfounded, for always before he had shown himself so resourceful.

I stood still, too, a minute, for I was surprised. Aunt Mary was having hysterics in one of our windows which she'd thrown open; and Monsieur Talleyrand had come close behind me, it seemed, though I didn't know that then.

I heard the queer clucking and roaring of the fire which was drinking gallons of petrol, but the only thing I really thought of was Brown with his hands in his pockets while my car was burning up. I didn't love it—at least I hadn't, and the night before I had behaved to it not at all in a gentlemanly manner, but I couldn't have stood by like that to watch it die without moving a finger.

"Oh, Brown!" I gasped out, running to him, so close that the fire was hot on my face. "Oh, Brown, how can you? Anybody would think that you were glad."

"And he is!" cried a voice in French at my back. "It was he who set your automobile on fire, mademoiselle. I myself, who tell you, saw him do it." I whisked round, and there stood Monsieur Talleyrand, looking very picturesque in an almost theatrical deshabille, with the firelight shining on him, just as if it were a scene on the stage.

Brown faced round too, and at the same instant, the fire having drunk the last drop of petrol, the flame suddenly died down, and there fell a curious silence after the roaring of the fire, which had been like a blast. The woodwork of the car, the hood and the upper part, as well as the wooden wheels, had all disappeared—the flame had swallowed and digested them. Of my varnished and dignified car there remained only a heap of twisted bits of iron, glowing a dull red. In the grey dawn we must have looked like witches at some secret and unholy rite. The going out of the light had an odd effect upon us three. When Monsieur Talleyrand launched his accusation at Brown, he had thrown up his chin, and the light, striking on his eyeballs, made them glow like red sparks. But with the dying of the light, the flash in his eyes died too; and his face changed to a disagreeable, ashy grey. At the same minute, when I turned to Brown, it was his eyes that glowed, but the light seemed to come from inside.

t forget whether I ever told you that Brown is a very good-looking fellow, too good-looking for a mere chauffeur. His face is like his name—brown; his eyes are brown too, and they can almost speak. One can't help noticing these things, even in one's chauffeur. If he weren't a chauffeur, one might certainly take him for a gentleman. Some things really are a pity! But never mind.

Brown looked at Monsieur Talleyrand, and then he said, "You are a liar." Oh, my goodness, I expected murder!

Monsieur Talleyrand gave a sort of leap.

"Scoundrel, hog, canaille!" he stammered, trembling all over. "To be insulted by an English cad, a common chauffeur, that a gentleman cannot call out, an incendiary——"

But here Brown broke in with a "Silence!" that made me jump. And the funny part was that it was he who looked the gentleman, and Monsieur Talleyrand the cad—quite a little, mean cad, though he is really handsome, with eyelashes you'd have to measure with a tape. That awful "Silence!" seemed to blow his words down his throat like a gust of wind, and while he was getting breath Brown followed up his first shot; but this time it was aimed my way.

"Do you believe what that coward says?" he flung at me, without even taking hold of the words with "Miss" for a handle. Between the two men and the excitement, I gasped instead of answering, and perhaps he took silence for consent, though that is such an old-fashioned theory, especially when it concerns girls. Anyway, he seemed to grow three or four inches taller, and his chin got squarer. "So far from burning your car," said he (and you could have made a block of ice out of each word), "I have been to Amboise to hire a car for you, and thought I had been lucky in securing my old master's.

"As this expedition has occupied the whole night. I have really had no time for plotting, even if there had been a motive, or if I were the sort of man for such work. I hoped you knew I wasn't. But there"—and he pointed to the road outside the open gate—"is my master's car, and the motor is still hot enough to prove——"

"I don't want it to prove," I found breath to exclaim. "Of course, I know you didn't burn my car——"

"But if I say I saw him," cut in Monsieur Talleyrand.

"Pooh!" said I. It was the only word I could think of that went "to the spot," and I hurried on to Brown. "All I minded was seeing you with your hands in your pockets. It didn't seem like you."

"You don't understand," said he. "Just as I opened the doors to drive in the car I'd brought, I saw at a glance that there was something queer about yours. The front seat was off; and as I came nearer I found the screw had been taken out of the petrol tank. With that I caught sight of a flame creeping along a tightly twisted piece of cotton waste—the stuff one cleans cars with. Then I knew that someone had planned to set fire to the car and leave himself time to escape. I sprang at it to knock away the waste, but I was too late. That instant the vapour caught, and I was helpless to do any good, because sand, and a huge lot of it, was the only thing that might have put the fire out, if one could have got it, and then gone near enough to throw it on. Since there was none, the only thing to do was to stand by; and as I'd scorched my hands a little, I suppose I instinctively put them in my pockets."

Monsieur Talleyrand laughed. "You tell your story very well," said he, "but——"

He didn't get farther than that "but," for just then up came running the farmer and his wife from the fields, where they had seen the flames. They began chattering shrilly, in a dreadful state about their buildings, but Brown quieted them down, pointing out that no harm had been done to anything of theirs, and that the fire was out. "Now," he said, "since I didn't burn the car, who did?"

I looked at Monsieur Talleyrand because Brown was looking at him, or rather glaring, when suddenly a loud exclamation from the farmer and his wife made me turn to see what was going to happen next. What I saw was the most wonderful old figure hobbling out of the house, through the door I'd left open—a mere knotted thread of an old thing, in a red flannel nightgown, I think it must have been, and a few streaks of grey hair hanging from a night-cap that tied up its flabby chin. It was the old woman who had breathed so much in the dark the night before; and no wonder they exclaimed at seeing her crawling out of doors, hardly dressed.

Somehow I felt frightened; she was just like a witch—horrifying, but pathetic too, so old, so little life left in her. She would have come hobbling on into the courtyard, but the farmer stopped her; and there she stood on the door-sill, raising herself up and up on her stick, until suddenly she clutched the farmer's arm and pointed the stick straight at Monsieur Talleyrand, gabbling out something which I couldn't understand.

The farmer had just been going to hustle her inside the house, but he changed his mind. "She says you set fire to the automobile," he exclaimed; "she saw it from the window. She thinks you will murder us all. Monsieur, my mother has still her senses. She does not tell foolish lies. You must go out of my house."

"Monstrous!" cried Monsieur Talleyrand. "Am I to be accused on the word of a crazy old witch? I advise you to be careful what you say."

"Here is something else, which speaks for itself," Brown said. "Look!" and he pointed to the ground not far from the gnawed bones of my car. We looked, and saw some wisps of the stuff he had called cotton-waste, twisted up and saturated with oil. "That was used to fire the petrol," he went on. "There was none like it on our car, but you carried plenty in yours. I've seen you use it, and so, I think, has Miss Randolph."

For an instant Talleyrand seemed to be taken aback, and he looked so pale in the dim light that I was almost going to be sorry for him, when with a sudden inspiration he struck an attitude before me. He had the air of ignoring the others, forgetting that they existed.

"Mademoiselle," he said in a low, really beautiful voice, that might have drawn tears from an audience if he had been the leading man cruelly mistaken for a neighbouring villain, "chère mademoiselle, I did what these canaille accuse me of. Yes, I did it! But they cannot understand why. Only you are high enough to understand. It was—because of my great love for you. All is to be forgiven to such love. Cheerfully, a hundred times over, will I pay for this material damage I have done. I am not poor, except in lacking your love. To gain an opportunity of winning it, to take you from your brutal chauffeur, who is not fit to have delicate ladies trusted to his care, I did what I have done, meaning to lay my car, myself, all that I have and am, figuratively at your feet."

If he had really, instead of "figuratively," I'm sure I couldn't have resisted kicking him, which would have been unladylike. How could I ever have thought he was nice? Ugh! I could have strangled him with his own eyelashes! Brown was right about him, after all. I wonder why it doesn't please one more to find out that other people are right?

"I don't want you to pay," said I. "I only want you to go away."

I've a dim impression that I emphasised these words with a gesture, and that he seized my hand before I could pull it back. I also have a dim impression of exclaiming, "Oh, Brown!" in a frightened voice—just as silly as if I'd been an early-Victorian female. I wished I hadn't, but it was too late. Brown, evoked, was not so easily revoked. A whirlwind seemed to catch Monsieur Talleyrand up, but it was really Brown. They went together to visit a disagreeable, shiny green pond in the middle of the farmyard. Brown stopped at the brink; but Monsieur Talleyrand didn't stop—I suspect Brown knew why. He went on, and in. And, oh, Dad! to save my life, I couldn't help laughing. All my excitement and everything went into that laugh—the half-crying kind I used to call the "boo-higgles" when I was a little girl—you remember?

I was afraid the wretch might hear me, so I turned and fairly ran for the house. Brown took some long steps, and reached me before I got there, apparently not the least concerned in the splashing sounds which so much interested everybody else.

"About my master's car, miss," said he coolly. "Will you have it? He was at Amboise. I'd heard from him there, that if I knew of anyone wanting to hire a car, his was in the market for the next few weeks, as he was suddenly called away, and didn't want to take it. It's a good car—the best I ever drove—and he's willing to let it go cheap, as he trusts me to drive, and it's an accommodation to him."

"Oh, I'm delighted to have it," I answered, not stopping to ask the price, because details didn't seem to matter at that moment. "It's—it's just like the ram caught in the bushes, isn't it? And—I don't know how to thank you enough for everything." I can't tell exactly what I meant by that, except that I meant a lot.

"There's nothing to thank me for, miss," said Brown, quite respectful again; but a queer little smile lurked in the corners of his mouth. "You must be hungry," he remarked. "Shall I ask them to have breakfast prepared by the time you're—ready?"

I believe he was going to say "dressed," and stopped for fear of hurting my feelings. I only stayed long enough to throw a "Yes, please," over my shoulder. But when I was upstairs with Aunt Mary, my face feeling rather hot, I didn't begin to make my toilet; I went and "peeked" out of the window.

That unspeakable Frenchman was shaking himself like a big dog, and sneaking towards the house, with the farmer at his heels. The farmer was a big fellow, and dependable; still, I ran and locked the door. I suppose the Beast finished dressing and packed his bag. I heard nothing; but half an hour later (I'd bathed and dressed like lightning, for once), when we were just sitting down to breakfast, and Brown had come into the room to ask a question, there was a light pattering on the stairs; the front door opened, and somebody went out. Two minutes later came the whirring of a motor, and I jumped up.

"Oh, Brown!" I exclaimed, "if he should have taken your car!"

"No fear of that," said Brown. "I know the sound just as I know one human voice from another. That's his Pieper. It's all right."

Still I wasn't at ease. "But he may have done something bad to yours. He's capable of anything," I said. "Do let's go and see."

Brown flushed up a little. "I'll go," he said. He was off on the word, racing across the farmyard. I couldn't eat my breakfast till he came back, which he did in a few minutes. I knew by his face before he spoke that something was wrong. "I was a fool to leave the car for even a second till he was out of the way," said the poor fellow. "Every tyre gashed. No doubt he'd have liked to smash up the car altogether if he'd had time, but his object was to do his worst and get off scot free. He's done both. It's thanks to you and your quick thought that the damage is so small."

"If it hadn't been for me he wouldn't have been here," I almost wept. "Now we're delayed again just when I began to hope that all might be well."

"All shall be well," answered Brown encouragingly. "We'll go 'on the rims' as far as Amboise."

I didn't know what it was to go on the rims, but When we'd settled up with the farmer, and I'd said a last, long good-bye to my car's bones (which I made the landlord a present of), I found out. It's something like "going on your uppers." I don't need to explain that, do I? But the car is such a beauty that seeing it with, its tyres en déshabille seemed an indignity. Brown couldn't help showing his pride in it, and I don't wonder. He is certainly a "Mascot" to me, for he has got me out of every scrape I've been in since he "crossed my path," as the melodramas say. And now this lovely car! On the way to Amboise he told me what it was to be let for. Only twenty francs a day. I protested, because Rattray had said that good cars couldn't be hired for less than twenty pounds a week; but Brown explained that this was because his master liked him to drive it, and that really it wasn't so cheap as I thought. I suppose it's all right. Funny, though, that I should have the car of that Mr. John Winston, whose mother—Lady Brighthelmston—I met in Paris, and promised to meet again in Cannes. Fancy Aunt Mary and me lolling luxuriously (I love that word "lolling") in a snow-white car with scarlet cushions, all the brass-work gleaming like a fireman's helmet—the rakiest, smartest car imaginable! There are two seats in front and a roomy tonneau behind. The steering and other arrangements are quite different from those in the poor dead Dragon—rest its wicked soul! There's a steering-wheel, and below it two ducky little handles that do everything. One's the "advance sparking lever," the other the "mixture lever." There are no horrid belts to break themselves—and your heart at the same time, but instead a "change speed gear" and a "clutch." I had my first lesson in driving, sitting by Brown on the way to Amboise. He teaches one awfully well, and I was perfectly happy learning, especially when I found that the faster we went the easier the dear thing is to steer. I was so interested that I didn't know a bit what the road was like, except that it was good and white and mostly level, so that when Brown suddenly said "There is the Château of Amboise," I was quite startled.

Luckily he was driving again by that time, or I should probably have shot us into the river instead of turning to the bridge; for we were on the other side of the Loire looking across to the castle.

You poor, dear, stay-at-home Dad, to think of your never having seen any of these lovely places that you've nobly sent me to browse among? You say you admire Wall Street more than French châteaux, and that when you want a grand view you can go and look at Brooklyn Bridge or the statue of Liberty by night; but you don't know what you're missing. And if travelling would really bore you, why do you like me to describe things, so that I can "give you a picture though my eyes"?

I wonder if girls who have lived all their lives in old, old countries can have the same sort of awed, surprised, almost dream-like feeling that comes to me when I see these great feudal castles that are like history in stone? Yes, in stone, and yet the stone seems alive too as if it were the flesh of history; and as I think of all the things that have happened behind the splendid walls, I can hear history's heart beating as if it and the world were young with me.

This château country of the Loire must be one of the most interesting spots on earth, centring as it did the old Court life of France, and Brown says it really is so. He has travelled tremendously and remembers everything, though he is nothing but a chauffeur.

Each place we have come to I have thought must be the best; but I know that no other castle will make me take Amboise down off the pedestal I've set it on. in my mind.

As I glanced up at it in the sunshine the great white carved façade dazzled me. It looked as if it had been cut out of ivory. The bridge rests on an island in the middle of the wide, yellow, slow-moving stream of the Loire, which has a curiously still surface like ice. Brown drove slowly without my having to ask. He's wonderful that way. He always knows what you are feeling, as if you had telegraphed him the news. And there before us lay the little town of Amboise, sprinkled along the river-bank as if each house were a votive offering on the shrine of the Château towering above on its plateau of rock.

I couldn't make out the architecture at first. The castle was just a vast, dazzling complication of enormous round towers, bastions, terraces, balconies, and crenellations. Oh, those balconies! Instantly I could see poor little fainting Queen Mary held up by wicked Catherine de Medici—the record wickedest mother-in-law of history—to watch the execution of the Huguenots. And then the row of heads hanging from the balcony afterwards, like terrible red gargoyles! When we went into the Château later the custodian, or whatever you call him, showed us where the fine ironwork was stained and rusted with the Huguenots' blood.

I was very angry with Aunt Mary because she kept her nose in her Baedeker, and preferred reading about the castle to seeing it when she had the chance. I have my opinion of people who won't take their Baedeker in doses either before or after meals of sight-seeing; but Aunt Mary spreads it so thick over hers that what's underneath is lost.

We drove to a nice little hotel tucked away at the foot of the Chateau, for déjeuner, and to get rid of our luggage, for we'd have to stop at Amboise till the four new tyres (which Brown now wired for) should arrive from Paris. We had so many courses that I grew quite impatient, for I wanted to be off to the castle. And to save time I insisted on Brown lunching with us. That's happened before several times, so that it doesn't seem at all strange now, though Aunt Mary fussed at first, and even I felt rather funny. But the queer part is, it's so much more difficult to remember that Brown's not a gentleman than to make an effort to be civil to him as if he were one. Rattray at the table was beyond words, and so are a lot of Frenchmen who ought to know better; but—you'll laugh at me—I don't see how a duke could eat any better than Brown, or have nicer hands and nails; though how he does it with the car to clean is more than I can tell.

We came towards the castle, after déjeuner, from the back through the town, which was gay with booths and blue blouses and pretty peasant girls, because the market was being held. We went right through the crowd, up, up a sloping path, where suddenly we were in a restful silence, after the chattering and chaffering below. And I felt as if we had got into a novel of Scott's; for if we'd been his characters he would have brought us up short at a secretive door in a tower, just like the one where we had to knock. One couldn't guess what would be on the other side of that tower; and it was like walking on through the next chapter of the same novel (walking slowly and with dignity, so that we might "live up to" the author of our being) to wander up a steep road leading to a plateau and reach the still, formal garden with the great castle rising out of it.

On this plateau a lovely thing simply took my eyes captive and wouldn't let them go. It was the most perfect gem of a little chapel out of dreamland. Brown said it was "a jewel of the pure Gothic, one of the most precious of the florid kind in France." Comic to have one's chauffeur talking to one like that, isn't it? But I'm used to it now, and feel quite injured if Brown happens not to know something I ask him about.

I never realised what an important lady Anne of Brittany was, till I was introduced to her sweet little ermine at Blois. Brown hinted then that I would keep on realising it more and more as we drove through the Loire country, and so I do. This chapel was hers—built for her, and I envy her having it. Couldn't you, Dad dear, just make a bid, and have it taken over for our garden at Lennox? But no! that would be sacrilege. It's almost sacrilege even to joke about it. Yet, oh, that carving of St. Hubert and his holy stag over the door! I've no jewellery so lovely as that cameo in stone; and I've got to leave it behind in Europe.

Poor Charles the Eighth, too, seemed to come to us like a human, every day young man one knew when we saw the low doorway where he knocked his head and killed himself, running in a great hurry to play tennis. How little he guessed when he started that he should never have that game, and why! I wonder if Anne was sorry when he died, or if she liked having another wedding and being a queen all over again when she married Louis the Twelfth?

I should have thought more about the ladies' love affairs, only I got so interested in an oubliette, and in a perfectly Titanic round tower, with an inclined plane corkscrewing up, round and round inside it, so broad and so gradual that horses and carriages used in old, old days to be driven from the town-level up to the top. "Only think what fun, Brown," I couldn't help saying, "if we could drive the car up here!" "The idea!" sniffed Aunt Mary. "As if they'd allow such a thing!" But Brown didn't answer; he just looked thoughtfully at the gradient.

We went up, too, on the top of one of the great towers of the castle itself, and it was glorious to stand there looking away over the windings of the river. We were at a bend midway between Blois and Tours, and ever so far off we could see two little horns sticking up over the undulations of the land. They were the towers of the cathedral of Tours; and in that same direction Brown showed me a queer thing like a long, thin finger pointing at the sky—the Lanterne of Rochecorbon. They tised to flash signals from it all the way to Amboise, and so on to Blois, when any horror happened with which they were particularly pleased, like a massacre of Huguenots.

Now, most patient gentleman, at last I've finished my harangue. I'm ashamed to think how long it is, but I'm writing wrapped up in a warm coat, under a tilleul in the Château garden, where I've been allowed to bring my campstool. Do you know what a tilleul is? I don't believe you do. I didn't till the other day; but I shan't tell you, except that the very name suggests to me leisured ease and sauntering courtiers. You must come over to France and find out and incidentally fetch me home—only not yet, please, oh, not yet. As for the tilleul, if you've any romance left in your dear old body you'd love sitting under it, even in winter. If it were summer, with the limes in blossom well, the best way to express my feeling is to remark that if, in June moonlight, under a tilleul, a man I hated should propose to me, I'd believe for the moment I loved him and say "Yes—yes!" But you need not be frightened; it isn't summer or moonlight, and there's no man except Brown within a hundred miles of your silly

Molly.