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Max
written by "Thurston, Katherine Cecil, 1875-1911"
...e fruit. Ten minutes and more slipped by, during which, still philosophical, he walked slowly round and round the table, straightening a candle here, altering a dish there, humming all the while in a not unmusical voice the song from Louise. He was dwelling fondly upon the line "Depuis le jour où je me suis donnée"— when the door of the bedroom was flung open as by a gale, and at the door of the salon appeared Max—his dark hair falling over his forehead, a comb in one hand, a brush in the other. "Mon cher! a hundred—a thousand apologies for being so long! It is all the fault of my hair!" Blake looked at him across the candles. "Indeed I wouldn't bother about my hair, if I were you! A century of brushing wouldn't make it respectable." "Why not?" "Look at the length of it!" "Ah, but that pleases me!" Blake shook his head in mock seriousness. "These artists! These artists!" he murmured to himself. Max laughed, threw the comb and brush from him into some unseen corner of the hall, and ran across the salon. "You are very ill-mannered! I shall box your ears!" Blake threw himself into an attitude of defence. "I'd ask nothing better!" he cried. "Come on! Just come on!" Max, laughing and excited, took a step forward, then paused as at some arresting thought. "Afraid? Oh, la, la! Afraid?" "Afraid!" The boy tossed the word back scornfully, but his face flushed and he made no advance. "You'll have to, now, you know!" Max retreated. "Oh, no, you don't!" With a quick, gay laugh, touched with the fire of battle, Blake followed; but ere he could come to close quarters, the boy had dodged and, lithe and swift as a cat, was round the table. "No! No!" he cried, with a little gasp, a little sob of excitement that caught the breath. "No! No! I demand grace. A starving man, mon ami! A starving man! It is not fair." He knew his adversary. Blake's hands dropped to his sides, he yielded with a laugh. "Very well! ...

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