XXXII. Two Stubborn People
Rosemary West, on her way home from a music lesson at Ingleside, turned aside
to the hidden spring in Rainbow Valley. She had not been there all summer; the
beautiful little spot had no longer any allurement for her. The spirit of her young
lover never came to the tryst now; and the memories connected with John
Meredith were too painful and poignant. But she had happened to glance
backward up the valley and had seen Norman Douglas vaulting as airily as a
stripling over the old stone dyke of the Bailey garden and thought he was on his
way up the hill. If he overtook her she would have to walk home with him and she
was not going to do that. So she slipped at once behind the maples of the spring,
hoping he had not seen her and would pass on.
But Norman had seen her and, what was more, was in pursuit of her. He had
been wanting for some time to have talk with Rosemary, but she had always, so
it seemed, avoided him. Rosemary had never, at any time, liked Norman Douglas
very well. His bluster, his temper, his noisy hilarity, had always antagonized her.
Long ago she had often wondered how Ellen could possibly be attracted to him.
Norman Douglas was perfectly aware of her dislike and he chuckled over it. It
never worried Norman if people did not like him. It did not even make him dislike
them in return, for he took it as a kind of extorted compliment. He thought
Rosemary a fine girl, and he meant to be an excellent, generous brother-in-law to
her. But before he could be her brother-in-law he had to have a talk with her, so,
having seen her leaving Ingleside as he stood in the doorway of a Glen store, he
had straightway plunged into the valley to overtake her.
Rosemary was sitting pensively on the maple seat where John Meredith had
been sitting on that evening nearly a year ago. The tiny spring shimmered and
dimpled under its fringe of ferns. Ruby-red gleams of sunset fell through the
arching boughs. A tall clump of perfect asters grew at her side. The little spot was
as dreamy and witching and evasive as any retreat of fairies and dryads in
ancient forests. Into it Norman Douglas bounced, scattering and annihilating its
charm in a moment. His personality seemed to swallow the place up. There was
simply nothing there but Norman Douglas, big, red-bearded, complacent.
"Good evening," said Rosemary coldly, standing up.
"'Evening, girl. Sit down again--sit down again. I want to have a talk with you.
Bless the girl, what's she looking at me like that for? I don't want to eat you--I've
had my supper. Sit down and be civil."
"I can hear what you have to say quite as well here," said Rosemary.
"So you can, girl, if you use your ears. I only wanted you to be comfortable. You
look so durned uncomfortable, standing there. Well, I'LL sit anyway."
Norman accordingly sat down in the very place John Meredith had once sat. The
contrast was so ludicrous that Rosemary was afraid she would go off into a peal
of hysterical laughter over it. Norman cast his hat aside, placed his huge, red
hands on his knees, and looked up at her with his eyes a-twinkle.