He leaned back in his chair and felt in his pocket for his pipe.
"Do brothers ask their sisters if they may smoke?" he asked.
Thelma wrinkled her forehead trying to remember. "Never mind," she said at length, "go on and smoke if you wish."
She waited while the match was lit and until the cloud of filmy smoke obscured the scent of the lilacs. Down in her heart a little unnamed something stirred and hurt. Ted had never smoked in her presence before.
Her eyes sought the lilac bush but the golden singer was gone--scared away, perhaps, by the pungent cloud of smoke.
"Great idea--this sister and brother business," remarked Ted presently. "Of course I wouldn't have proposed it myself, but seeing that you did I'll admit that it looks good to me. Maybe I can save a little money now."
"Save a little money!" bristled Thelma.
"May I ask you to explain?"
"Of course," he went on, "when I was buying candy and flowers and theater tickets and hiring taxicabs, I couldn't save a cent. You wouldn't believe how near flat I was before last pay day."
"I don't think it is very nice of you to tell me about it," she answered.
"Why not?" he puffed. "Don't brothers always discuss their financial affairs with their sister? Of course they do--and borrow money of them, too, if they get into serious difficulties."
"Indian giver!" he accused. "When the Indians make a present they either steal or beg it back. Girls don't call their brother 'Mister.'
"But I wanted to explain about this money business. I am going to take the money I would otherwise spend on you and start a bank account. Of course I'll remember your birthdays and--by the way when is your birthday?"
"The eleventh of March."
He sighed in relief and closed his eyes in ecstasy. "No need to think about that for nearly a year," he exulted. "I can see my bank account rolling up. Want to go for a walk?"
"Are you practising your new economy on me already?" she asked, mischievously peering at him over the arm of the chair.
His teeth bit down on his pipe stem at the sight of the laughing face with its dancing eyes; then he heaved the smoking bowl out into the garden.
"Would you like to walk?" he repeated.
She skipped from her chair. "I'd much rather walk than ride, on a day like this," she said gaily, "and I don't mind walking anyway--with a brother."
"But you didn't think much of the idea a moment ago," he said anxiously.
She put her finger against his lips. They trembled in a most unbrotherly fashion.
"Never mind, she said demurely, "I believe it is the duty of every young woman to encourage frugality and economy. And I know a spot in the woods where violets grow that would cost you ever so much a bunch at the florist's."
"Lead me to it," he commanded.