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The Passionate Puritan

Chapter XXIX

page 306

Chapter XXIX

Sidney went to stay with a family who had entertained her and Arthur the previous summer.

After she had unpacked, her hostess told her they would have to leave her alone that evening for an imperative business dinner engagement that would have bored her to death. They thought she would prefer to rest. She was glad of their thoughtfulness, and said she would go to bed early.

When she walked into their drawing-room before dinner a form rose out of a chair, and a voice said, "I hope the sense of humour is healthy this evening."

"Oh, Arthur," she gasped helplessly.

But before they could make a proper beginning dinner was announced. The woman servant who waited on them thought them a very hilarious couple. But she was puzzled by some of their conversation. She wondered why a white baby should be the subject of amusement. She understood better the humorous possibilities of blue pajamas.

At the end of the meal, when they were alone,

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Arthur went to the sideboard, took up a bottle and a corkscrew, and turning to the table showed them to Sidney.

"Do you recognize it?" he asked, holding up the Burgundy.

"Why, Arthur! The same bottle?"

"The same. You won't refuse to drink with me now?"

She flushed.

"I always hated myself for that," she said looking down.

"You were afraid of me there, in my shanty," he smiled.

"And of myself," she said.

"You didn't get my mood. I was full of a great resolve. I wanted to drink to it."

She looked up into his face, half guessing.

"That was the night I made up my mind I had to be faithful to you."

Leaning forward, she seized his hand and kissed it.

"And even without the Burgundy I was," he added.

She put his hand against her cheek.

"But it will do no harm to resolve again, with the Burgundy," he went on.

Then with an air of solemn ceremoniousness he drew the cork and poured out the wine.

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Sidney stood up beside him, and they raised their glasses.

"To monogamy," he said gravely, "and may it be as interesting as it ought to be. The good Lord help us both."

She choked and had to put down her glass.

When she recovered she proposed a toast of her own.

"To the great god Humour, and may he never desert us."

And they finished the bottle in great spirits.

Soon afterwards, in the drawing-room, the pearl and diamond ring was on Sidney's hand. She had seen the divorce papers, and had consented to as immediate a marriage as the Board of Education would allow, on the condition, fiercely emphasized, that certain objects should never thereafter be mentioned between them.

The End