Another Love Scene

EARLY in the following April, nearly a year after that dubious parting you have just witnessed, you may, if you like, again see Maggie entering the Red Deeps through the group of Scotch firs. But it is early afternoon and not evening, and the edge of sharpness in the spring air makes her draw her large shawl close about her and trip along rather quickly; though she looks round, as usual, that she may take in the sight of her beloved trees. There is a more eager, inquiring look in her eyes than there was last June, and a smile is hovering about her lips, as if some playful speech were awaiting the right hearer. The hearer was not long in appearing. `Take back your Corinne,' said Maggie, drawing a book from under her shawl. `You were right in telling me she would do me no good. But you were wrong in thinking I should wish to be like her.'

`Wouldn't you really like to be a tenth Muse, then, Maggie?' said Philip, looking up in her face as we look at a first parting in the clouds, that promises us a bright heaven once more.

`Not at all,' said Maggie, laughing. `The Muses were uncomfortable goddesses, I think - obliged always to carry rolls and musical instruments about with them. If I carried a harp in this climate, you know, I must have a green baize cover for it - and I should be sure to leave it behind me by mistake.'

`You agree with me in not liking Corinne, then?'

`I didn't finish the book,' said Maggie. `As soon as I came to the blond-haired young lady reading in the park, I shut it up and determined to read no further. I foresaw that that light complexioned girl would win away all the love from Corinne and make her miserable. I'm determined to read no more books where the blond haired women carry away all the happiness. I should begin to have a prejudice against them - If you could give me some story, now, where the dark woman triumphs, it would restore the balance - I want to avenge Rebecca and Flora MacIvor, and Minna and all the rest of the dark unhappy ones. Since you are my tutor you ought to preserve my mind from prejudices, you are always arguing against prejudices.'

`Well, perhaps you will avenge the dark women in your own person: - carry away all the love from your cousin Lucy. She is sure to have some handsome young man of St Ogg's at her feet now - and you have only to shine upon him - your fair little cousin will be quite quenched in your beams.'

`Philip, that is not pretty of you, to apply my nonsense to anything real,' said Maggie, looking hurt. `As if I, with my old gowns, and want of all accomplishments, could be a rival of dear little Lucy, who knows and does all sorts of charming things, and is ten times prettier than I am - even if I were odious and base enough to wish to be her rival. Besides, I never go to aunt Deane's when any one is there: it is only because dear Lucy is good and loves me that she comes to see me, and will have me go to see her sometimes.'

`Maggie,' said Philip, with surprise, `it is not like you to take playfulness literally. You must have been in St Ogg's this morning, and brought away a slight infection of dulness.'

`Well,' said Maggie, smiling, `if you meant that for a joke, it was a poor one; but I thought it was a very good reproof. I thought you wanted to remind me that I am vain, and wish every one to admire me most. But it isn't for that, that I'm jealous for the dark women - not because I'm dark myself. It's because I always care the most about the unhappy people: if the blonde girl was forsaken, I should like her best. I always take the side of the rejected lover in the stories.'

`Then you would never have the heart to reject one yourself - should you, Maggie?' said Philip, flushing a little.

`I don't know,' said Maggie, hesitatingly. Then with a bright smile - `I think perhaps I could if he were very conceited. And yet, if he got extremely humiliated afterwards, I should relent.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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