Robert turned sideways, and resting an arm on his knee to exclude the persistent William, spoke in a husky voice.
“What is your favourite flower, Miss Cannon?”
William’s small head was craned round Robert’s arm.
“I’ve gotter garden. I’ve got Virginia Stock grow’n all over it. It grows up in no time. An’ must’erd ’n cress grows in no time, too. I like things what grow quick, don’t you? You get tired of waiting for the other sorts, don’t you?”
Robert rose desperately.
“Would you care to see the garden and green-houses, Miss Cannon?” he said.
“I’d love to,” said Miss Cannon.
With a threatening glare at William, Robert led the way to the garden. And William, all innocent animation, followed. WILLIAM’S SMALL HEAD WAS CRANED ROUND ROBERT’S ARM. “I LIKE THINGS WHAT GROW QUICK, DON’T YOU?” HE SAID—ALL INNOCENT ANIMATION.
“Can you tie knots what can’t come untied?” he demanded.
“No,” she said, “I wish I could.”
“I can. I’ll show you. I’ll get a piece of string and show you afterwards. It’s easy but it wants practice, that’s all. An’ I’ll teach you how to make aeroplanes out of paper what fly in the air when it’s windy. That’s quite easy. Only you’ve gotter be careful to get ’em the right size. I can make ’em and I can make lots of things out of match boxes an’ things an’——”
The infuriated Robert interrupted.
“These are my father’s roses. He’s very proud of them.”
“Well, wait till you see my Virginia Stock! that’s all. Wait——”
“Will you have this tea-rose, Miss Cannon?” Robert’s face was purple as he presented it. “It—it—er—it suits you. You—er—flowers and you—that is—I’m sure—you love flowers—you should—er—always have flowers. If I——”
“An’ I’ll get you those red ones and that white one,” broke in the equally infatuated William, determined not to be outshone. “An’ I’ll get you some of my Virginia Stock. An’ I don’t give my Virginia Stock to anyone,” he added with emphasis.
When they re-entered the drawing-room, Miss Cannon carried a large bouquet of Virginia Stock and white and red roses which completely hid Robert’s tea-rose. William was by her side, chatting airily and confidently. Robert followed—a pale statue of despair.