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Man and Wife

Nearer Still
BLANCHE stepped lightly into the room, through one of the open French windows.
"What are you doing here?" she said to Arnold.
"Nothing. I was just going to look for you in the garden."
"The garden is insufferable, this morning." Saying those words, she fanned herself with
her handkerchief, and noticed Geoffrey's presence in the room with a look of very thinly-
concealed annoyance at the discovery. "Wait till I am married!" she thought. "Mr.
Delamayn will be cleverer than I take him to be, if he gets much of his friend's company
"A trifle too hot--eh?" said Geoffrey, seeing her eyes fixed on him, and supposing that he
was expected to say something.
Having performed that duty he walked away without waiting for a reply; and seated
himself with his letter, at one of the writing-tables in the library.
"Sir Patrick is quite right about the young men of the present day," said Blanche, turning
to Arnold. "Here is this one asks me a question, and doesn't wait for an answer. There are
three more of them, out in the garden, who have been talking of nothing, for the last hour,
but the pedigrees of horses and the muscles of men. When we are married, Arnold, don't
present any of your male friends to me, unless they have turned fifty. What shall we do
till luncheon-time? It's cool and quiet in here among the books. I want a mild excitement-
-and I have got absolutely nothing to do. Suppose you read me some poetry?"
"While he is here?" asked Arnold, pointing to the personified antithesis of poetry--
otherwise to Geoffrey, seated with his back to them at the farther end of the library.
"Pooh!" said Blanche. "There's only an animal in the room. We needn't mind him!"
"I say!" exclaimed Arnold. "You're as bitter, this morning, as Sir Patrick himself. What
will you say to Me when we are married if you talk in that way of my friend?"
Blanche stole her hand into Arnold's hand and gave it a little significant squeeze. "I shall
always be nice to you," she whispered--with a look that contained a host of pretty
promises in itself. Arnold returned the look (Geoffrey was unquestionably in the way!).
Their eyes met tenderly (why couldn't the great awkward brute write his letters
somewhere else?). With a faint little sigh, Blanche dropped resignedly into one of the
comfortable arm-chairs--and asked once more for "some poetry," in a voice that faltered
softly, and with a color that was brighter than usual.
"Whose poetry am I to read?" inquired Arnold.
"Any body's," said Blanche. "This is another of my impulses. I am dying for some poetry.
I don't know whose poetry. And I don't know why."
Arnold went straight to the nearest book-shelf, and took down the first volume that his
hand lighted on--a solid quarto, bound in sober brown.