Summary of preceding chapters: Anthony Vance and Hope Damon marry to save his fortune from Wilfred Logan and Anthony’s onetime fiancé, Cecile Talmadge, and to give Hope the financial security she needs to move out of her brother and sister-in-law’s house. Tony leaves for Japan immediately afterward and returns over a year later to find that his wife has taken her mother’s name, Stanton, and is running a tea room, Harvest Moon, in Maine, which Tony’s lawyer, John Gilman, has helped her to build. Cecile Talmadge wants Wilfred Logan, but Wilfred has developed a passion for Hope, who despises him. Tony and Hope are about to meet for the first time since their strange marriage.
Young Anthony Vance, heir to millions by his uncle’s strange will, meets an utter stranger, Hope Damon, in the Park. Her evident unhappiness emboldens him to speak to her. He explains that he must find a wife by noon, or the girl who has just jilted him, Cecile Talmadge, will marry his enemy, Wilfred Logan, as Logan comes into his uncle’s property if Vance does not marry before he is twenty-five. Hope longs to get away from her brother’s “Dr. James'” house as she dislikes her sister-in-law, so she marries Vance, but will accept only five thousand dollars, with which she starts a tea room on the Maine coast aided by Vance’s lawyer, Gilman. Vance goes at once to Japan, where he remains [nearly three years.] He returns to find that his wife has taken her mother’s name, Stanton, and that “Bobsy,” Hope’s little nephew, is visiting his aunt at her tea room, the Harvest Moon. Cecile and Wilfred have not married, but are spending the summer near the Gilman estate in Maine. Logan has conceived a desperate passion for Hope, who despises him. Husband and wife are to meet at the Gilman’s for the first time since their strange marriage
“I wonder if my eyes do shine like stars? They feel as big as motor lamps,” thought Hope, as with a queer throbbing in her throat she entered the great living-room at Stone Acres, the Gilman’s country house. John Gilman came hastily forward to meet her.
“Here you are–prompt as usual,” he said, aloud, then in a solicitous undertone, “You’re all right, aren’t you? Not nervous? You won’t faint?”
He was so ludicrously disturbed that on the instant Hope’s nervousness departed. She looked at him with gay audacity, stopped for an instant, clasped her hand to her heart and whispered dramatically:
” ‘Tis he!” then with a wicked ripple of mirth went on to greet Mrs. Gilman.
Her host looked after her, passed a handkerchief over his hot forehead, and grinned to himself.
“Serves me right for doubting that girl’s grit. So Tony’s ‘through with love forever,'” he thought with a chuckle. “Perhaps he is, but I wouldn’t take a thousand dollars for the fun that’s coming.” He sauntered across the room. His wife was introducing Vance to Miss Stanton. There was a white line about the man’s compressed lips, the girl was radiantly self-possessed.
“I have heard of you from Mr. and Mrs. Gilman. I am quite sure we shall be friends, Mr. Vance. Am I too presumptuous?” Her gaze was challenging as she looked up into his gray eyes.
Vance looked at her gravely. “The question is unnecessary Miss–Miss Stanton, we are friends. I–“
“Look here, Tony, you can’t monopolize Miss Stanton, you’re a married man,” exclaimed a mocking voice, as Wilfred Logan appeared beside them. His usually colorless face was flushed, his black eyes a trifle malicious as he held out his hand with daring assurance, “I’m glad to see you back, Van!”
Vance gave one look at him, then at the Gilmans. There was pleading in the eyes of his hostess. Even if he loathed the man before him he couldn’t show it in the home of his host, he thought, so he hesitated only a moment, then accepted the proffered hand.
“Late as usual, Cecile!” cried a voice, and the group about the hostess separated as a tall, graceful girl entered the room. Her light hair was waved and dressed in the newest fashion; the color in her cheeks had been most artistically applied; her blue eyes were cool and shallow; her gown exquisite.
“Of course I’m late,” the new-comer drawled in a colorless, hard voice. “It makes you appreciate me all the more when I do arrive, doesn’t it, Mrs. Gil–” Her voice broke, her lips straightened in a tense line, her face grew so white that the artificial color flaunted brazenly by comparison; “You, Tony? You?” she gasped.
Hope looked at John Gilman reproachfully, evidently he had not warned Cecile Talmadge.
Vance was the first to relieve the awkwardness. Gilman wouldn’t, Mrs. Gilman couldn’t, she had been stricken dumb. He advanced toward the girl with extended hand; he even managed a laugh, although his gray eyes narrowed with annoyance.
“Pray don’t look as if you had seen a ghost, Cecile!” He grasped her limp hand “Mr. Gilman is to blame. I returned to New York yesterday and when I went to his office he would insist upon bringing me down with him.”
He drew her away from the group as he spoke until they were standing quite apart from the others. Hope heard her say, “Oh, Tony!” before the butler, appearing from nowhere, stood at Mrs. Gilman’s side.
“Dinner is served, madam,” he announced.
The light which shone through the pink petals of the roses on the great round table was vastly becoming, Hope decided, as she took her seat beside her host in the mahogany paneled dining room. As the meal progressed–from under her long lashes she stole an occasional surreptitious glance at Vance who sat at the right of his hostess. Once he met her eyes, steadily, gravely. She flushed, nodded to him gaily and continued to laugh and chat with those about her.
“My word, but you do twinkle, twinkle little star!” complained Richard Masson. he put one hand before his eyes as though to shield them from an overpowering light. “Why this meteorological display?” he challenged.
“Nonsense, Dicky!” Hope retorted She had known the man beside her only a day or two, when she, like all his acquaintances was calling him by his nickname. He fairly radiated friendliness. “One would think, to hear you, that I was usually a shy, woodland flower.”
“Oh, no, one wouldn’t. There’s no ‘violet by the mossy stone half hidden from the eye’ about you. Rather
” ‘She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight.
A dancing shape, an image gay,
To haunt, to startle and waylay,'”
he quoted sentimentally.
“Help, Mr. Gilman!” laughed Hope, with a wicked gleam in her eyes. “Dicky’s quoting poetry to me. He’s laying siege to my young affections.”
“Huh!” growled the disgusted Dicky. “A lot of young affections you have! I don’t believe you have any heart. You’re always guying a chap if he tries to say what he thinks.”
One of those dire silences, which is supposed to cast its spell upon a company once in every twenty minutes, had settled upon the other guests. Masson’s voice seemed to boom through the stillness. Hope caught her breath and turned appealingly to her host. He hastened to her rescue.
“Tony has brought over a new racer,” he announced to the company. “Intend to bring it down here, Van?” he asked?
Tom Mandell, rosy, rotund, rubicund, who was always bringing about tragic situations by his inopportune remarks, exclaimed:
“Brought over a new car! Why didn’t he bring over his new wife? Bless me, it’s the first time I’ve thought of her! Did you leave her abroad in exchange for the car, Tony?” with a delighted grin at his own witticism.
Vance waved away the man who would have filled his glass before he answered.
“She is with friends at present. We haven’t made our plans yet. It is rather late to open The Ledges and too early for New York. You’ll see her later, Tommy.”
Through the ringing, buzzing sensation in her ears Hope heard Gilman chuckle, “Good for Tony!” He drew a breath of relief and stole a glance at the girl beside him. Her cheeks were flushed, her breath came as though she had been running, but her eyes gleamed with laughter as they met his.
“I wonder where young Mrs. Van really is? I’ve met her sister-in-law in town at the Gilman’s” confided Richard Masson in a low tone to Hope.
The girl felt as though he must hear the beating of her heart, but she asked with well simulated indifference:
“How does it happen that neither the Gilmans nor yourself have ever met this sister of Dr. Damon’s? You are all so devoted to him.”
“Well, you see, I know him only in a professional way, and then the sister had been with him but a month when she ran off with Tony. How the dickens Van had a chance to get acquainted with her without some one of us getting wise is what stumps his own particular cronies. She had been living with her grandmother. I’ll bet that Mrs. Jim made it hot for the little girl, all right. However, no one has been able to get a word out of her as to the whereabouts of Van’s wife. ‘With Mr. Vance, of course,’ has been her invariable reply, or at least that’s what Logan says.” His face darkened. “I don’t know why he’s making it his business to find out,” he growled.
“Logan!” The contempt in her own voice frightened Hope and she asked quickly:
“What sort of a person is this–this Mrs. Jim?”
“Small, blonde, feline, appealing, heaven-help-the-man-she-marries type. Always has one or two tame cats hanging about. Nothing wrong,” he added hastily.
So that was the prevailing opinion of Elsie. Dear old Jim! He deserved better than that, Hope thought sadly. A little sigh of relief fluttered to the girl’s lips as Mrs. Gilman rose from the table. She followed Cecile Talmadge to the door. When Cecile reached it, she turned, looked appealingly at Vance who stood near and drawled:
“Don’t be long, Tony; I’ve so much I want to tell you.”
Hope stood with her head a little bent while she waited for Cecile to go into the living room. Vance flushed, his gray eyes gleamed.
“I am coming in as soon as possible to hear Miss Stanton sing. Mr. Gilman tells me she is another Geraldine Farrar,” he replied.
Hope looked up at him. “You have known our host all these years and still believe that his swans are really swans?” she asked, with adorable malice.
When the men returned to the living room Hope was at the piano surrounded by a group of laughing girls. As they entered she rose. John Gilman approached her hurriedly:
“Not till I’ve had my song,” he protested, as he laid his hand on her shoulder. “The young people think it too solemn for them, but mother and I like it. Babs, you may leave the room if you feel that the song will put too great a strain on your emotions, Gilman said teasingly to his daughter.
A beautiful smile illumined the grave face of the girl.
“Discipline is good for the young, dad,” she answered gaily, then as he turned away, she whispered in a low tone: “If I didn’t believe in your song, Hope, my heart would break, I think.”
Her lips were tense now and the violet eyes were clouded with tears. The girl at the piano looked at her in stupefied amazement. “Babs the Fortunate”–as her friends nicknamed her–with a heart-ache? It seemed incredible.
Hope struck a few soft chords. The music of the song was charming. There was perfect stillness in the great room as the girl sang in a voice of haunting, golden sweetness:
“Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made;
Our times are in His hand
Who saith, ‘A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God.
See all nor be afraid.'”
Anthony Vance stood behind the singer as the last note died away. She turned and saw him. For a moment the room and its occupants vanished and she was in the Park again looking into the gray, disillusioned face of a man. The memory brought tears to her eyes.
“It is a wonderful thought, ‘the best is yet to be,'” she said softly.
The gray eyes met the dark ones steadily.
“I can quite believe it, now,” he answered.
“What would you do if you loved a man you couldn’t marry?”
Hope looked quickly at Barbara Gilman. The girl’s face was averted and she was nervously scraping pine needles into little piles with a stick. Was this the secret of Bab’s impassioned whisper that night, two weeks ago, in her father’s living-room?
“I hardly know, dear. Why shouldn’t you love him?”
“He’s married,” despairingly.
“Married! And he has made you love him? Don’t waste your thought on him. He isn’t worth it,” hotly.
“Hope, you don’t understand! He doesn’t know that I care. He would be as horrified as you are, if he did. Sometimes I wish that he did know. It would be some comfort,” defiantly. “He’d have to think of me. But now, he is too absorbed in his work to notice.”
Hope laid her hand gently on the other’s. “Try, try, dear, to think of someone else. I know that it will be hard. Why not go away?”
“I should have gone last winter, but I couldn’t endure to be where I couldn’t see him occasionally. I–“
“Babs!” called Vance. “Come down here and give us a pointer on this engine. It seems to have fainted dead away!”
After Babs left, Hope sat quite still, her eyes fixed unseeingly on the distant mountains. Neither by word nor look had Vance referred to their relations. He had never sought her, but she had the consciousness that he was aware of her every move.
Logan had been in New York since the evening of the Gilman dinner. A little shiver always accompanied Hope’s thoughts of him. She feared him, but why should she? Suppose her marriage should be discovered? She couldn’t have that happen, for Vance loved Cecile Talmadge, and she–
Dick Masson came toward her. Barbara and Vance had started off in the motor boat, the girl at the wheel, the man teasingly critical. A married man, Babs had said. Could it be Vance? Could it be? But Babs had said, “I should have gone away last winter but I couldn’t endure to be where I couldn’t see him occasionally.”
Thank God, it wasn’t Anthony Vance! The girl closed her eyes and leaned against the tree. Her relief made her almost dizzy.
“Hope, Hope, are you faint? You are quite white!” She opened her eyes and looked up into Richard Masson’s anxious face.
“Faint? Nonsense! I have had a busy day and I was just relaxing. What a wonderful place The Ledges is, Dicky. Was old Mr. Vance an interesting man as well as a rich one?” She glanced back over her shoulder to where, on a cliff overlooking the sea, a great stone house spread its hospitable length. Its windows were shuttered, but hedges of hydrangeas in bloom made of the garden a very riot of color.
“Yes, he was interesting, all right, but eccentric. Van got on with him swimmingly, though. That was a queer will he made. You’ve heard about it, I suppose?”
“Yes. The papers were full of it at the time of Anthony Vance’s engagement to Cecile Talmadge.”
“Blamed if I ever understood that! Tony liked Cecile from the time she was a little girl, never took much notice of any one else, but, somehow, I always felt that he didn’t know what real love was. The girl who got him must have been a–“
“Never mind her, Dicky.” She sprang to her feet. “They are waiting for us. Let’s hurry or we shall be late for dinner.” She ran on ahead and joined the others at the boat. Vance had turned to greet an old man who had rowed up in a dory piled high with lobster pots.
“Hi! Captain Henry!” he called. The weather-beaten face glowed with pleasure. “You haven’t forgotten me, have you?”
“By mighty! I should say not! It’s nigh on to ten years though since you left us! Land sakes, but you’ve growed, Mr. Tony!”
“Mr. Tony! How long since you’ve begun to call me Mister? Some time you must tell these people how you used to use a knotted rope’s end to teach me how to sail a boat.”
The old man shook with laughter. “I’ll tell ’em, all right. But say, where’s that wife of yours? I hear–” He stopped abruptly as a purring overhead and a distant hail caused all eyes to turn to a biplane which was approaching.
“Oh,” cried Hope eagerly, “There’s Tommy Mandell in his airship. Signal to him, someone, please! Perhaps he would take me in! He promised that I should go sometime.”
The word escaped Vance’s lips with the force of a pistol shot. “You are never to go with Tommy, Hope! Do you understand? Never!” There was a tense line about his mouth as he looked at the girl. His expression was one of dominant possession.
“By mighty!” chuckled Capt. Henry, whose attention had been diverted from the biplane by Vance’s exclamation; “I guess I know who yer wife is now! Glad to have met yer, Mis’ Vance. Well, I must be goin’ ter set my pots. See yer again, Tony.”
Richard Masson, who had wheeled upon Vance at his tone, now looked at Hope. His eyes flashed with anger, followed by incredulity, then comprehension. She met his glance pleadingly. He sprang aboard the boat.
“Give us your hand, Hope,” he commanded gruffly. “The Gilmans will have a search party out if we don’t get back.”
“Right you are,” she laughed. “I’ve lost Tommy this time.” the biplane was now but a speck in the distance. “But I shall make an appointment with him to take me out!” she announced defiantly as she ignored Vance’s outstretched hand. Accepting Masson’s, she stepped lightly into the boat.
“I beg pardon, Miss Stanton, I forgot for a moment that I have no authority over you. But I haven’t a high opinion of Mandell’s skill as an aviator.” Vance went forward and took his place by Barbara Gilman who stood at the wheel. Then he teased and commended the skipper all the way home. Dicky was oppressively talkative. Hope silent. She was glad when they reached Stone Acres. John Gilman was waiting for them on the veranda.
“Here they are, mother,” he cried. “Well, Babs, you had your old dad going some. I suspected that you four might have run away.” A thought made him chuckle. He put his arm about his daughter’s shoulders. “Who do you think I saw to-day? I almost persuaded him to come down with me.”
Hope looked smilingly and wistfully at the father and daughter who were such good comrades. She saw the girl’s face whiten and her figure stiffen as she asked hurriedly:
“Who did you see, dad?”
“Dr. Jim! He looks about as he did two years ago, Babs, when you were ill and we didn’t know–” His voice broke.
“I remember quite well how he looked,” Barbara Gilman replied, and went into the house.
Hope looked after her in stunned surprise.
“Why, why, it’s dear old Jim that she loves!” she kept repeating to herself. “I wonder if he–” She wouldn’t finish the sentence, even to herself. Jim was the soul of honor. He was struggling to keep out of the slough of disillusionment and despair. She mustn’t conjecture about what he would be too honorable to acknowledge even to himself. She started to follow the others into the house when she felt an arresting, compelling touch on her arm.
“Just a moment, Hope.”
Vance stood beside her. She looked in the direction of the door.
“They cannot hear me. I just wanted you to know that I am sorry I let myself go about the flying today.”
She clasped her hands behind her and looked up at him with a laughing, tormenting gleam in her eyes.
“Dicky Masson heard you and Captain Henry–” The remembrance of Captain Henry’s speech turned her pink.
“I’m sorry, but that isn’t all. I ask you not to go in an airship.”
“Stop me if you dare!” she taunted laughingly.
He seized her by the shoulders and gave her a gentle shake. “There isn’t anything I would not dare to keep you safe, little girl,” he answered with a tenderness which sent Hope’s heart to her throat as she made a most undignified dash for the house.
Autumn had begun work with her paint-brush. Along the roadsides, goldenrod, purple asters and the crimson of sumach flamed riotously. The sky was a clear, cold blue. The sea air carried a tang which dashed color into cheeks and salty lips. The country places had closed one by one, earlier this year than usual because of the troubled times. Men wished to be near the city, and the women, sobered by the distress everywhere, went with them.
The logs crackled and blazed in the great fireplace at The Sign of the Harvest Moon. Hope was seated in her favorite big chair before it. She was considering what her next move should be. There was no reason why she should stay where she was, and since Bobsy had returned to his parents she had been very lonely.
Would Anthony Vance care what she did, she wondered? Since his protest against her flying with Tom Mandell she had avoided him. Had Dicky Masson suspected? She had not seen him since that eventful day. In spite of her avoidance of Vance she was always acutely conscious of him. If by chance her eyes met his, she had the feeling that he was simply biding his time. Why? Of course he couldn’t care for her. He had said that he could never love another girl when Cecile–no, she wouldn’t think of that time, she couldn’t bear it. Cecile had tried shamelessly to make him her slave once more. What could be her motive? She didn’t love him, Hope knew. She had seen her eyes when Logan had been hanging over her own chair. Vance seemed coldly indifferent. Was it a pose? She shook her head.
“He doesn’t pose,” she said aloud to the fire. “He’s too honest.”
“Who is too honest?” echoed a gay voice.
The startled girl turned and saw Wilfred Logan standing behind her. She glanced from him to the door.
“It is after office hours,” she suggested frigidly.
“Don’t slay me with a look,” he laughed. I knocked, really I did, but receiving no answer I looked in at the window. You were dreaming here beside the fire, so I made bold to enter. Won’t you ask me to stay?”
Without waiting for a reply he threw his cap and driving gloves upon a table and drew up a chair before the fire.
“I thought you were in New York,” responded Hope, with a cool, level look.
“I came because I love you and want you to marry me. That isn’t all. I intend that you shall marry me!” His tone was confident and he seized her hands.
She twisted away and put them behind her.
“No, Mr. Logan.”
He came nearer. “Indeed!” he mocked. “But you shall! I always get what I want sooner or later.”
“Do you? You should add–by fair means or foul.”
Logan’s face grew dark with anger. “You refer to my little affair with Cecile Talmadge, I suppose. Well she did that,” he retorted.
” ‘The woman tempted me’,” she mocked.
“Look here.” His face was white now and his tone brutal. “Why are you taking up arms in defense of Tony Vance? Has he been making love to you? What! Tony the faultless? What a situation!” He seized her roughly by the arm. “Why, he has a wife already, but, perhaps he’s such a charmer that you don’t mind–” He laughed mockingly; his eyes were malevolent.
A ringing blow on his ear silenced him. He dropped the girl’s arm and put his hand to his head. He was livid with anger.
“So-o,” he drawled. “That’s young Van’s game, is it? He thinks he’ll euchre me again, does he? First the fortune, then politics, now you. Well, I’ll find that wife of his if I have to hunt the world over, then we’ll see. He’s running for senator against Dunston and me. I’ll put a spoke in his wheel! No man with a wife that he hides because he is ashamed of her, a woman he picked up on the street, will carry that district!”
“Anthony Vance is not ashamed of his wife,” she defended valiantly.
“Oh, isn’t he? Well, I’ll find her and we’ll see. I’ll make him acknowledge her.”
“Oh, no, you won’t!” said an incisive voice behind him.
With a little cry of amazement Hope looked at Anthony Vance. HIs eyes were flaming as he came forward.
“Please,” she urged, “please for my sake make no scene here.”
Wilfred Logan looked at her, and then at Vance. He shrugged his shoulders.
“I’m going, but remember! I always get what I want! So long, Tony,” he added tauntingly. “When next we meet I hope you’ll introduce me to this fair unknown, the mysterious Mrs. Vance. Perhaps, though, you’d like to have me find her for you,” he jeered. Before Vance could reach him he was out of the door and in his car.
“How–when did you come?” Hope cried.
“I motored all the way from New York to the Gilman’s. I came–I came to have it out with you,” Vance replied.
Hope rose from her chair in hurried protest. He shook his head at her and she saw the determination in his eyes.
“Is it fair, Hope?” he asked gravely. “I know why you married me. Why I married you–oh, I was a selfish brute! The time has come when we should acknowledge the truth.”
He flushed as he went on. “Will you come and live in my house and acknowledge our marriage?”
“Oh, no!” she began, in impetuous protest.
He caught her hands and drew her down into the chair before him.
“I ask nothing of you but to live in my house and assume my name. You may go where you like, do what you like. You may run this tea-house, if it is your heart’s desire. If you will come to me it will stop all gossip and muzzle Logan. He’s bent on mischief. He hates me now and he’ll work like a demon to ferret out the girl I married. I know him. Will you come, Hope?”
She shook her head. “I can’t. You do not care for me, and I–“
“But once you proposed yourself that we should be friends? Then why–” he put his hand beneath her chin and turned her face toward him till he could look deep into her eyes, “unless you are in love with someone?”
The long lashes dropped suddenly and a vivid pink wavered up to the girl’s hair then faded, leaving her face quite pale.
“So that’s it,” he said in a shaken voice. “You’ve found someone you love? It’s Dicky Masson! I knew it! Must I have your unhappiness on my conscience?” He turned abruptly to the window and stared blindly out into the dusk.
Hope followed him. She seized his hand; she pressed her head close against his arm.
“Please don’t be sorry. It isn’t your fault, really, really. I don’t want to marry anyone,” with passionate emphasis, “I really don’t. Won’t you believe me?” pleadingly.
He caught her by the shoulders. “You can have the marriage annulled anytime. I’ll help you,” he offered harshly.
“Do you want it annulled?” she asked in a low tone.
“No!” he answered, “I want you to be happy. That’s my one thought. I allowed you to sacrifice your future for me, now, I’ll do anything I can to insure your happiness. You believe me, don’t you Hope?”
“I do!” She gazed at him, her eyes brilliant with tears. “But let’s just be the best of friends, can’t we? We must not let Logan beat us! Can he spoil your chances for election with his stories?” Her voice was eagerly friendly.
He flushed again as he looked down at the lovely, radiant face so near his shoulder. A white line came about his lips as he asked grimly:
“Would you like to see me senator? I can do it, but, let’s cut Logan out of our thoughts. Do you remember the day that we–that you married me, I told you that I should return with something? Well, I did, but you had gone. This belongs to you whether you ever wear it or not.” He drew a ring from his pocket, uncurled the girl’s slender fingers and laid it in her palm.
She looked at it for a moment, then held it out to him beseechingly:
“Please, please take it back! It really isn’t mine.”
He shook his head. “It is yours,” he answered. “I’m going now. If ever you want to see me, I’ll come.” He hesitated a moment, reddened, then said awkwardly, “Have you plenty of money? That five thousand couldn’t have lasted this long. You know that you promised we should be friends.”
Hope looked up at him with mocking mischief.
“I! Money! Why I have made a small fortune this year. I am horribly puzzled to know what to spend it for.”
He laughed at her mock seriousness, but his heart grew warm. Surely, she couldn’t be unhappy if she could jest like that!
“Try politics,” he suggested; “that will use up your funds.”
“We might go into partnership,” she retorted quickly.
He looked at her with an expression which brought her heart fluttering to her throat.
“We have already embarked in one. Your suggestion is worth considering. Good-bye!”
The girl looked after him, then dropped on the floor before the big chair and leaned back against it. She slipped the ring on to the third finger of her left hand. It fitted perfectly.
“I wonder how he knew the size?” she asked the fire dreamily.
To be continued…