'You don't sound very ,,, ' John checked himself and put it another way, 'Which of your parents are you fondest of?'
The answer to this question was of some importance to him. Melissa had just described herself as an emotional ascetic and he feared that this might be perfectly true. There had been moments during their courtship when, in spite of his attachment to her, he had found himself wondering if she was capable of any strong feeling. She had revealed very little of her heart to him, and though she had said that she loved him, she had made the avowal in so cool a manner that he doubted if she knew what she was saying. He put his question therefore a little anxiously, and was rewarded by a smile of approval.
'I'm so glad,' she said, 'that you don't mind putting the preposition last. Jane Austen frequently did.'
'Melissa! I asked a question. Of which are you fondest?'
'Now don't alter it just when I've said I like it. Which am I fondest of? Really, I don't know. For years I've been so perfectly exasperated with both of them that I might say I'm usually fondest of the one I'm not with.'
This was not very reassuring.He watched her unhappily as she picked up a large straw hat which lay on the grass beside her. Her expression was pleasant but her voice had been chilly. :
'I must go,' she said, getting up. 'Cressida is coming to supper.'
'You're very fond of her, I expect,' he pleaded as he scrambled to his feet.
She turned to him with an amused stare.
'How anxious you are that I should be fond of people!'
'I want to believe that you have a very sweet nature.'
'Oh, but I have a very sweet nature. I like most people. I'd like everyone if I could. Dislike is so fatiguing.'
'But do you really love anyone, Melissa?'
'You should know.'
at Chywoone Hill, Newlyn,' by Harold Harvey, found on Pinterest}