Master of Hearts

Master of Hearts by Averil Ives

Book: Master of Hearts by Averil Ives Read Free Book Online
Authors: Averil Ives
anxious lest they are left, as you would say, 'on the shelf."
    She laughed rather ruefully, overwhelmingly aware of his warm fingers gripping her elbow.
    "Are you suggesting that I'm in a certain amount of danger, too?"
    "Never," he answered. "There is no danger that you will be left on the shelf. For one thing you are English, and therefore you appear younger; and for another—" There was a second's pause. "One day you will fall in love!" he said.
    She quivered slightly.
    "Perhaps," she said feebly.
    "There is no 'perhaps' about it! With your eyes, and the warm feeling that you cannot disguise even for those impossible twins down there on the edge of the stream . . . and your mouth, which is a very lovely mouth!" His eyes were on it, but she didn't dare to turn her own eyes up to his and discover this fact for herself. "And several other things about you, I don't hesitate to predict that one day you will fall very violently in love! Perhaps not in a very English way!"
    "Meaning that the English are not as good at falling in love as the Portuguese?"
    "I know one English girl who could be—I think! And I know one Portuguese who lost his heart some little while ago!"
    "Yours, senhor?" she enquired, trying, but failing, to speak absolutely lightly.
    "Yes, mine." He warned her against a sudden depression in the track, and then caught back a trailing bramble so that it wouldn't fasten its thorns in her dress. "My heart is irrecoverably lost, and one day soon I hope that my bachelor days will be over. Then I shall really begin to live!"
    Kathleen felt as if the twitter of birdsong around them died, and the golden trickles of sunshine finding their way through the branches suddenly ceased to have any warmth. Even the little patches of blue sky that she could see between the leaves paled so that the day might have been grey instead of triumphantly blue and gold.
    "You—you mean that you are planning to marry?" she asked, stumbling over the depression, and having to be politely assisted by him up the other side.
    "As I said—one day! When one is as much in love as I am one naturally hopes it will be soon!"
    The children came running towards them, and although they were a little mud-stained and wet, they also looked supremely happy, and in their grubby hands they each
    clutched a few flowers.
    "For you, Kathie!" Jer ry said, and thrust them at her , and Joe also insisted upon her relieving him of his spoils.
    "You do like them, don't you, Kathie?" he demanded, and the Conde allowed one of his sleek dark eyebrows to rise a little.
    "Since when have you been calling Miss O'Farrel Kathie?" he asked. "And who gave you permission?" Jerry looked at him obliquely.
    "No one," he admitted. "But her sister and her brother call her Kathie, and anyway it's her name. Kathleen—it's written in one of her books!"
    The Conde smiled a little peculiarly, and pinched his ear.
    "So you really are beginning to read! . . . Well, that much we owe to Kathleen! Or am I, too, permitted to make it Kathie?" glancing into the rather rigidly down-bent face of the girl.
    "Perhaps it would be as well if you stuck to Miss O'Farrel," she answered a little hastily, and as his eyebrow ascended again bent and brought her own handkerchief to the task of cleansing his grubbiest nephew's face.


    WHEN they got back to the quinta Dona Inez was awaiting them in the hall.
    She looked a little surprised at the sight of her family being off-loaded from her brother's car, and seemed still more surprised at the sight of Kathleen, who had quite obviously accompanied them.
    "I was given to understand that the children had gone for a drive," she said. "But I wasn't certain with whom. I thought it possible someone had called and taken them out, or that Miss O'Farrel had been given permission to use one of the cars."
    "Instead of which you make the discovery that I have been devoting a morning to my nephews," the Conde returned rather drily.
    She looked

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