“How enchanting!” cried
Marcella, as they emerged on the terrace, and river,
shore, and sky opened upon them in all the thousand-tinted
light and shade of a still and perfect evening.
“Oh, how hot we were and how badly
you treat us in those dens!”
Those confident eyes of Wharton’s
shone as they glanced at her.
She wore a pretty white dress of some
cotton stuff it seemed to him he remembered
it of old and on the waving masses of hair
lay a little bunch of black lace that called itself
a bonnet, with black strings tied demurely under the
chin. The abundance of character and dignity in
the beauty which yet to-night was so young and glowing the
rich arresting note of the voice the inimitable
carriage of the head Wharton realised them
all at the moment with peculiar vividness, because
he felt them in some sort as additions to his own
personal wealth. To-night she was in his power,
The terrace was full of people, and
alive with a Babel of talk. Yet, as he carried
his companions forward in search of Mrs. Lane, he saw
that Marcella was instantly marked. Every one
who passed them, or made way for them, looked and
The girl, absorbed in her pleasant
or agitating impressions, knew nothing of her own
effect. She was drinking in the sunset light the
poetic mystery of the river the lovely line
of the bridge the associations of the place
where she stood, of this great building overshadowing
her. Every now and then she started in a kind
of terror lest some figure in the dusk should be Aldous
Raeburn; then when a stranger showed himself she gave
herself up again to her young pleasure in the crowd
and the spectacle. But Wharton knew that she was
observed; Wharton caught the whisper that followed
her. His vanity, already so well-fed this evening,
took the attention given to her as so much fresh homage
to itself; and she had more and more glamour for him
in the reflected light of this publicity, this common
“Ah, here are the Lanes!”
he said, detecting at last a short lady in black amid
a group of men.
Marcella and Edith were introduced.
Then Edith found a friend in a young London member
who was to be one of the party, and strolled off with
him till dinner should be announced.
“I will just take Miss Boyce
to the end of the terrace,” said Wharton to
Mr. Lane; “we shan’t get anything to eat
yet awhile. What a crowd! The Alresfords
not come yet, I see.”
Lane shrugged his shoulders as he looked round.
“Raeburn has a party to-night.
And there are at least three or four others besides
ourselves. I should think food and service will
be equally scarce!”
Wharton glanced quickly at Marcella.
But she was talking to Mrs. Lane, and had heard nothing.
“Let me just show you the terrace,”
he said to her. “No chance of dinner for
another twenty minutes.”
They strolled away together.
As they moved along, a number of men waylaid the speaker
of the night with talk and congratulations glancing
the while at the lady on his left. But presently
they were away from the crowd which hung about the
main entrance to the terrace, and had reached the
comparatively quiet western end, where were only a
few pairs and groups walking up and down.
“Shall I see Mr. Bennett?”
she asked him eagerly, as they paused by the parapet,
looking down upon the grey-brown water swishing under
the fast incoming tide. “I want to.”
“I asked him to dine, but he
wouldn’t. He has gone to a prayer-meeting at
least I guess so. There is a famous American
evangelist speaking in Westminster to-night I
am as certain as I ever am of anything that Bennett
is there dining on Moody and Sankey.
Men are a medley, don’t you think? So
you liked his speech?”
“How coolly you ask!” she said, laughing.
He was silent a moment, his smiling
gaze fixed on the water. Then he turned to her.
“How much gratitude do you think I owe him?”
“As much as you can pay,”
she said with emphasis. “I never heard
anything more complete, more generous.”
“So you were carried away?”
She looked at him with a curious, sudden gravity a
touch of defiance.
“No! neither by him,
nor by you. I don’t believe in your Bill and
I am sure you will never carry it!”
Wharton lifted his eyebrows.
“Perhaps you’ll tell me
where you are,” he said, “that I may know
how to talk? When we last discussed these things
at Mellor, I think you were a Socialist?”
“What does it matter what I
was last year?” she asked him gaily, yet with
a final inflection of the voice which was not gay;
“I was a baby! Now perhaps I have earned
a few poor, little opinions but they are
a ragged bundle and I have never any time
to sort them.”
“Have you left the Venturists?”
“No! but I am full
of perplexities; and the Cravens, I see, will soon
be for turning me out. You understand I
know some working folk now!”
“So you did last year.”
“No!” she insisted,
shaking her head “that was all different.
But now I am in their world I live
with them and they talk to me. One
evening in the week I am ‘at home’ for
all the people I know in our Buildings men
and women. Mrs. Hurd you know who I
mean?” her brow contracted a moment “she
comes with her sewing to keep me company; so does
Edith Craven; and sometimes the little room is packed.
The men smoke when we can have the windows
open! and I believe I shall soon smoke
too it makes them talk better. We get
all sorts Socialists, Conservatives, Radicals ”
“ And you don’t think much
of the Socialists?”
“Well! they are the interesting,
dreamy fellows,” she said, laughing, “who
don’t save, and muddle their lives. And
as for argument, the Socialist workman doesn’t
care twopence for facts that don’t
suit him. It’s superb the way he treats
“I should like to know who does
care!” said Wharton, with a shrug. Then
he turned with his back to the parapet, the better
to command her. He had taken off his hat for
coolness, and the wind played with the crisp curls
of hair. “But tell me” he
went on “who has been tampering with
you? Is it Hallin? You told me you saw him
“Perhaps. But what if it’s
everything? living? saving
your presence! A year ago at any rate the world
was all black or white to
me. Now I lie awake at night, puzzling my head
about the shades between which makes the
difference. A compulsory Eight Hours’ Day
for all men in all trades!” Her note of scorn
startled him. “You know you won’t
get it! And all the other big exasperating things
you talk about public organisation of labour,
and the rest you won’t get them till
all the world is a New Jerusalem and when
the world is a New Jerusalem nobody will want them!”
Wharton made her an ironical bow.
“Nicely said! though
we have heard it before. Upon my word, you have
marched! or Edward Hallin has carried you.
So now you think the poor are as well off as possible,
in the best of all possible worlds is that
the result of your nursing? You agree with Denny,
in fact? the man who got up after me?”
His tone annoyed her. Then suddenly
the name suggested to her a recollection that brought
“That was the man, then, you
attacked in the Clarion this morning!”
“Ah! you read me!” said
Wharton, with sudden pleasure. “Yes that
opened the campaign. As you know, of course,
Craven has gone down, and the strike begins next week.
Soon we shall bring two batteries to bear, he letting
fly as correspondent, and I from the office. I
enjoyed writing that article.”
“So I should think,” she
said drily; “all I know is, it made one
reader passionately certain that there was another
side to the matter! There may not be. I
dare say there isn’t; but on me at least that
was the effect. Why is it” she
broke out with vehemence “that not
a single Labour paper is ever capable of the simplest
justice to an opponent?”
“You think any other sort of
paper is any better?” he asked her scornfully.
“I dare say not. But that
doesn’t matter to me! it is we who talk
of justice, of respect, and sympathy from man to man,
and then we go and blacken the men who don’t
agree with us whole classes, that is to
say, of our fellow-countrymen, not in the old honest
slashing style, Tartuffes that we are! but
with all the delicate methods of a new art of slander,
pursued almost for its own sake. We know so much
better always than our opponents,
we hardly condescend even to be angry. One is
only ’sorry’ ’obliged
to punish’ like the priggish governess
of one’s childhood!”
In spite of himself, Wharton flushed.
“My best thanks!” he said.
“Anything more? I prefer to take my drubbing
all at once.”
She looked at him steadily.
“Why did you write, or allow
that article on the West Brookshire landlords two
“Well! wasn’t it true?”
“No!” she said with a
curling lip; “and I think you know it wasn’t
“What! as to the Raeburns?
Upon my word, I should have imagined,” he said
slowly, “that it represented your views at one
time with tolerable accuracy.”
Her nerve suddenly deserted her.
She bent over the parapet, and, taking up a tiny stone
that lay near, she threw it unsteadily into the river.
He saw the hand shake.
“Look here,” he said,
turning round so that he too leant over the river,
his arms on the parapet, his voice close to her ear.
“Are you always going to quarrel with me like
this? Don’t you know that there is no one
in the world I would sooner please if I could?”
She did not speak.
“In the first place,”
he said, laughing, “as to my speech, do you
suppose that I believe in that Bill which I described
“I don’t know,”
she said indignantly, once more playing with the stones
on the wall. “It sounded like it.”
“That is my gift my
little carillon, as Renan would say. But
do you imagine I want you or any one else to tell
me that we shan’t get such a Bill for generations?
Of course we shan’t!”
“Then why do you make farcical
speeches, bamboozling your friends and misleading
the House of Commons?”
He saw the old storm-signs with glee the
lightning in the eye, the rose on the cheek.
She was never so beautiful as when she was angry.
“Because, my dear lady we
must generate our force. Steam must be got
up I am engaged in doing it. We shan’t
get a compulsory eight hours’ day for all trades but
in the course of the agitation for that precious illusion,
and by the help of a great deal of beating of tom-toms,
and gathering of clans, we shall get a great many
other things by the way that we do want.
Hearten your friends, and frighten your enemies there
is no other way of scoring in politics and
the particular score doesn’t matter. Now
don’t look at me as if you would like to impeach
me! or I shall turn the tables. I
am still fighting for my illusions in my own way you,
it seems, have given up yours!”
But for once he had underrated her
sense of humour. She broke into a low merry laugh
which a little disconcerted him.
“You mock me?” he said
quickly “think me insincere, unscrupulous? Well,
I dare say! But you have no right to mock me.
Last year, again and again, you promised me guerdon.
Now it has come to paying and I claim!”
His low distinct voice in her ear
had a magnetising effect upon her. She slowly
turned her face to him, overcome by yet
fighting against memory. If she had
seen in him the smallest sign of reference to that
scene she hated to think of, he would have probably
lost this hold upon her on the spot. But his
tact was perfect. She saw nothing but a look
of dignity and friendship, which brought upon her with
a rush all those tragic things they had shared and
fought through, purifying things of pity and fear,
which had so often seemed to her the atonement for,
the washing away of that old baseness.
He saw her face tremble a little. Then she said
“I promised to be grateful. So I am.”
“No, no!” he said, still
in the same low tone. “You promised me a
friend. Where is she?”
She made no answer. Her hands
were hanging loosely over the water, and her eyes
were fixed on the haze opposite, whence emerged the
blocks of the great hospital and the twinkling points
of innumerable lamps. But his gaze compelled
her at last, and she turned back to him. He saw
an expression half hostile, half moved, and pressed
on before she could speak.
“Why do you bury yourself in
that nursing life?” he said drily. “It
is not the life for you; it does not fit you in the
“You test your friends!”
she cried, her cheek flaming again at the provocative
change of voice. “What possible right have
you to that remark?”
“I know you, and I know the
causes you want to serve. You can’t serve
them where you are. Nursing is not for you; you
are wanted among your own class among your
equals among the people who are changing
and shaping England. It is absurd. You are
She gave him a little sarcastic nod.
“Thank you. I am doing
a little honest work for the first time in my life.”
He laughed. It was impossible
to tell whether he was serious or posing.
“You are just what you were
in one respect terribly in the right!
Be a little humble to-night for a change. Come,
condescend to the classes! Do you see Mr. Lane
And, in fact, Mr. Lane, with his arm
in the air, was eagerly beckoning to them from the
“Do you know Lady Selina Farrell?”
he asked her, as they walked quickly back to the dispersing
“No; who is she?”
“Providence should contrive
to let Lady Selina overhear that question once a week in
your tone! Well, she is a personage Lord
Alresford’s daughter unmarried, rich,
has a salon, or thinks she has manipulates
a great many people’s fortunes and lives, or
thinks she does, which, after all, is what matters to
Lady Selina. She wants to know you, badly.
Do you think you can be kind to her? There she
is you will let me introduce you?
She dines with us.”
In another moment Marcella had been
introduced to a tall, fair lady in a very fashionable
black and pink bonnet, who held out a gracious hand.
“I have heard so much of you!”
said Lady Selina, as they walked along the passage
to the dining-room together. “It must be
so wonderful, your nursing!”
Marcella laughed rather restively.
“No, I don’t think it is,” she said;
“there are so many of us.”
“Oh, but the things you do Mr. Wharton
told me so interesting!”
Marcella said nothing, and as to her
looks the passage was dark. Lady Selina thought
her a very handsome but very gauche young woman.
Still, gauche or no, she had thrown over Aldous
Raeburn and thirty thousand a year; an act which,
as Lady Selina admitted, put you out of the common
“Do you know most of the people
dining?” she enquired in her blandest voice.
“But no doubt you do. You are a great friend
of Mr. Wharton’s, I think?”
“He stayed at our house last
year,” said Marcella, abruptly. “No,
I don’t know anybody.”
“Then shall I tell you?
It makes it more interesting, doesn’t it?
It ought to be a pleasant little party.”
And the great lady lightly ran over
the names. It seemed to Marcella that most of
them were very “smart” or very important.
Some of the smart names were vaguely known to her
from Miss Raeburn’s talk of last year; and,
besides, there were a couple of Tory Cabinet ministers
and two or three prominent members. It was all
At dinner she found herself between
one of the Cabinet ministers and the young and good-looking
private secretary of the other. Both men were
agreeable, and very willing, besides, to take trouble
with this unknown beauty. The minister, who knew
the Raeburns very well, was discussing with himself
all the time whether this was indeed the Miss Boyce
of that story. His suspicion and curiosity were
at any rate sufficiently strong to make him give himself
much pains to draw her out.
Her own conversation, however, was
much distracted by the attention she could not help
giving to her host and his surroundings. Wharton
had Lady Selina on his right, and the young and distinguished
wife of Marcella’s minister on his left.
At the other end of the table sat Mrs. Lane, doing
her duty spasmodically to Lord Alresford, who still,
in a blind old age, gave himself all the airs of the
current statesman and possible premier. But the
talk, on the whole, was general a gay and
careless give-and-take of parliamentary, social, and
racing gossip, the ball flying from one accustomed
hand to another.
And Marcella could not get over the
astonishment of Wharton’s part in it. She
shut her eyes sometimes for an instant and tried to
see him as her girl’s fancy had seen him at
Mellor the solitary, eccentric figure pursued
by the hatreds of a renounced Patricianate bringing
the enmity of his own order as a pledge and offering
to the Plebs he asked to lead. Where even was
the speaker of an hour ago? Chat of Ascot and
of Newmarket; discussion with Lady Selina or with
his left-hand neighbour of country-house “sets,”
with a patter of names which sounded in her scornful
ear like a paragraph from the World; above all,
a general air of easy comradeship, which no one at
this table, at any rate, seemed inclined to dispute,
with every exclusiveness and every amusement of the
“idle rich,” whereof in the
popular idea he was held to be one of the
very particular foes!
No doubt, as the dinner moved on,
this first impression changed somewhat. She began
to distinguish notes that had at first been lost upon
her. She caught the mocking, ambiguous tone under
which she herself had so often fumed; she watched
the occasional recoil of the women about him, as though
they had been playing with some soft-pawed animal,
and had been suddenly startled by the gleam of its
claws. These things puzzled, partly propitiated
her. But on the whole she was restless and hostile.
How was it possible from such personal temporising such
a frittering of the forces and sympathies to
win the single-mindedness and the power without which
no great career is built? She wanted to talk
with him reproach him!
“Well I must go worse
luck,” said Wharton at last, laying down his
napkin and rising. “Lane, will you take
charge? I will join you outside later.”
“If he ever finds us!”
said her neighbour to Marcella. “I never
saw the place so crowded. It is odd how people
enjoy these scrambling meals in these very ugly rooms.”
Marcella, smiling, looked down with
him over the bare coffee-tavern place, in which their
party occupied a sort of high table across the end,
while two other small gatherings were accommodated
in the space below.
“Are there any other rooms than this?”
she asked idly.
“One more,” said a young
man across the table, who had been introduced to her
in the dusk outside, and had not yet succeeded in getting
her to look at him, as he desired. “But
there is another big party there to-night Raeburn you
know,” he went on innocently, addressing the
minister; “he has got the Winterbournes and the
Macdonalds quite a gathering rather
an unusual thing for him.”
The minister glanced quickly at his
companion. But she had turned to answer a question
from Lady Selina, and thenceforward, till the party
rose, she gave him little opportunity of observing
As the outward-moving stream of guests
was once more in the corridor leading to the terrace,
Marcella hurriedly made her way to Mrs. Lane.
“I think,” she said “I
am afraid we ought to be going my
friend and I. Perhaps Mr. Lane perhaps
he would just show us the way out; we can easily find
There was an imploring, urgent look
in her face which struck Mrs. Lane. But Mr. Lane’s
loud friendly voice broke in from behind.
“My dear Miss Boyce! we
can’t possibly allow it no! no just
half an hour while they bring us our coffee to
do your homage, you know, to the terrace and
the river and the moon! And then if
you don’t want to go back to the House for the
division, we will see you safely into your cab.
Look at the moon! and the tide” they
had come to the wide door opening on the terrace “aren’t
they doing their very best for you?”
Marcella looked behind her in despair.
Where was Edith? Far in the rear! and
fully occupied apparently with two or three pleasant
companions. She could not help herself. She
was carried on, with Mr. Lane chatting beside her though
the sight of the shining terrace, with its moonlit
crowd of figures, breathed into her a terror and pain
she could hardly control.
“Come and look at the water,”
she said to Mr. Lane; “I would rather not walk
up and down if you don’t mind.”
He thought she was tired, and politely
led her through the sitting or promenading groups
till once more she was leaning over the parapet, now
trying to talk, now to absorb herself in the magic
of bridge, river, and sky, but in reality listening
all the time with a shrinking heart for the voices
and the footfalls that she dreaded. Lady Winterbourne,
above all! How unlucky! It was only that
morning that she had received a forwarded letter from
that old friend, asking urgently for news and her
“Well, how did you like the
speech to-night the speech?”
said Mr. Lane, a genial Gladstonian member, more heavily
weighted with estates than with ideas. “It
was splendid, wasn’t it? in the way
of speaking. Speeches like that are a safety-valve that’s
my view of it. Have ’em out all
these ideas get ’em discussed!” with
a good-humoured shake of the head for emphasis.
“Does nobody any harm and may do good. I
can tell you, Miss Boyce, the House of Commons is
a capital place for taming these clever young men! you
must give them their head and they make
excellent fellows after a bit. Why who’s
this? My dear Lady Winterbourne! this
is a sight for sair een!”
And the portly member with great effusion
grasped the hand of a stately lady in black, whose
abundant white hair caught the moonlight.
“Marcella!” cried a woman’s
Yes there he was! close
behind Lady Winterbourne. In the soft darkness
he and his party had run upon the two persons talking
over the wall without an idea a suspicion.
She hurriedly withdrew herself from
Lady Winterbourne, hesitated a second, then held out
her hand to him. The light was behind him.
She could not see his face in the darkness; but she
was suddenly and strangely conscious of the whole
scene of the great dark building with its
lines of fairy-lit gothic windows the blue
gulf of the river crossed by lines of wavering light the
swift passage of a steamer with its illuminated saloon
and crowded deck of the wonderful mixture
of moonlight and sunset in the air and sky of
this dark figure in front of her.
Their hands touched. Was there
a murmured word from him? She did not know; she
was too agitated, too unhappy to hear it if there was.
She threw herself upon Lady Winterbourne, in whom
she divined at once a tremor almost equal to her own.
“Oh! do come with me come
away! I want to talk to you!” she
said incoherently under her breath, drawing Lady Winterbourne
with a strong hand.
Lady Winterbourne yielded, bewildered,
and they moved along the terrace.
“Oh, my dear, my dear!”
cried the elder lady “to think of
finding you here! How astonishing how how
dreadful! No! I don’t mean that.
Of course you and he must meet but it was
only yesterday he told me he had never seen you again since and
it gave me a turn. I was very foolish just now.
There now stay here a moment and
tell me about yourself.”
And again they paused by the river,
the girl glancing nervously behind her as though she
were in a company of ghosts. Lady Winterbourne
recovered herself, and Marcella, looking at her, saw
the old tragic severity of feature and mien blurred
with the same softness, the same delicate tremor.
Marcella clung to her with almost a daughter’s
feeling. She took up the white wrinkled hand
as it lay on the parapet, and kissed it in the dark
so that no one saw.
“I am glad to see you
again,” she said passionately, “so glad!”
Lady Winterbourne was surprised and moved.
“But you have never written
all these months, you unkind child! And I have
heard so little of you your mother never
seemed to know. When will you come and see me or
shall I come to you? I can’t stay now, for
we were just going; my daughter, Ermyntrude Welwyn,
has to take some one to a ball. How strange” she
broke off “how very strange that you
and he should have met to-night! He goes off
to Italy to-morrow, you know, with Lord Maxwell.”
“Yes, I had heard,” said
Marcella, more steadily. “Will you come
to tea with me next week? Oh, I will write. And
we must go too where can my friend
She looked round in dismay, and up
and down the terrace for Edith.
“I will take you back to the
Lanes, anyway,” said Lady Winterbourne; “or
shall we look after you?”
“No! no! Take me back to the Lanes.”
“Mamma, are you coming?”
said a voice like a softened version of Lady Winterbourne’s.
Then something small and thin ran forward, and a girl’s
voice said piteously:
“Dear Lady Winterbourne,
my frock and my hair take so long to do! I
shall be cross with my maid, and look like a fiend.
Ermyntrude will be sorry she ever knew me. Do
“Don’t cry, Betty.
I certainly shan’t take you if you do!”
said Lady Ermyntrude, laughing. “Mamma,
is this Miss Boyce your Miss Boyce?”
She and Marcella shook hands, and
they talked a little, Lady Ermyntrude under cover
of the darkness looking hard and curiously at the tall
stranger whom, as it happened, she had never seen before.
Marcella had little notion of what she was saying.
She was far more conscious of the girlish form hanging
on Lady Winterbourne’s arm than she was of her
own words, of “Betty’s” beautiful
soft eyes also shyly and gravely fixed
upon herself under that marvellous cloud
of fair hair; the long, pointed chin; the whimsical
“Well, none of you are
any good!” said Betty at last, in a tragic voice.
“I shall have to walk home my own poor little
self, and ’ask a p’leeceman.’
He disengaged himself from a group
behind and came with no alacrity.
Betty ran up to him.
“Mr. Raeburn! Ermyntrude
and Lady Winterbourne are going to sleep here, if
you don’t mind making arrangements. But
I want a hansom.”
At that very moment Marcella caught
sight of Edith strolling along towards her with a
couple of members, and chatting as though the world
had never rolled more evenly.
“Oh! there she is there
is my friend!” cried Marcella to Lady Winterbourne.
She was hurrying off when she saw
Aldous Raeburn was standing alone a moment. The
exasperated Betty had made a dart from his side to
“collect” another straying member of the
An impulse she could not master scattered
her wretched discomfort even her chafing
sense of being the observed of many eyes. She
walked up to him.
“Will you tell me about Lord
Maxwell?” she said in a tremulous hurry.
“I am so sorry he is ill I hadn’t
heard I ”
She dared not look up. Was that his voice
“Thank you. We have been
very anxious about him; but the doctors to-day give
a rather better report. We take him abroad to-morrow.”
“Marcella! at last!” cried
Edith Craven, catching hold of her friend; “you
lost me? Oh, nonsense; it was all the other way.
But look, there is Mr. Wharton coming out. I
must go come and say good-night everybody
Aldous Raeburn lifted his hat.
Marcella felt a sudden rush of humiliation pain sore
resentment. That cold, strange tone those
unwilling words! She had gone up to him as
undisciplined in her repentance as she had been in
aggression full of a passionate yearning
to make friends somehow to convey to him
that she “was sorry,” in the old child’s
phrase which her self-willed childhood had used so
little. There could be no misunderstanding possible!
He of all men knew best how irrevocable it all was.
But why, when life has brought reflection, and you
realise at last that you have vitally hurt, perhaps
maimed, another human being, should it not be possible
to fling conventions aside, and go to that human being
with the frank confession which by all the promises
of ethics and religion ought to bring peace peace
and a soothed conscience?
But she had been repulsed put
aside, so she took it and by one of the
kindest and most generous of men! She moved along
the terrace in a maze, seeing nothing, biting her
lip to keep back the angry tears. All that obscure
need, that new stirring of moral life within her which
had found issue in this little futile advance towards
a man who had once loved her and could now, it seemed,
only despise and dislike, her was beating
and swelling stormlike within her. She had taken
being loved so easily, so much as a matter of course!
How was it that it hurt her now so much to have lost
love, and power, and consideration? She had never
felt any passion for Aldous Raeburn had
taken him lightly and shaken him off with a minimum
of remorse. Yet to-night a few cold words from
him the proud manner of a moment had
inflicted a smart upon her she could hardly bear.
They had made her feel herself so alone, unhappy,
But, on the contrary, she must
be happy! must be loved! To
this, and this only, had she been brought by the hard
experience of this strenuous year.
“Oh, Mrs. Lane, be an
angel!” exclaimed Wharton’s voice.
“Just one turn five minutes!
The division will be called directly, and then we
will all thank our stars and go to bed!”
In another instant he was at Marcella’s
side, bare-headed, radiant, reckless even, as he was
wont to be in moments of excitement. He had seen
her speak to Raeburn as he came out on the terrace,
but his mind was too full for any perception of other
people’s situations even hers.
He was absorbed with himself, and with her, as she
fitted his present need. The smile of satisfied
vanity, of stimulated ambition, was on his lips; and
his good-humour inclined him more than ever to Marcella,
and the pleasure of a woman’s company.
He passed with ease from triumph to homage; his talk
now audacious, now confiding, offered her a deference,
a flattery, to which, as he was fully conscious, the
events of the evening had lent a new prestige.
She, too, in his eyes, had triumphed had
made her mark. His ears were full of the comments
made upon her to-night by the little world on the
terrace. If it were not for money hateful
money! what more brilliant wife could be
desired for any rising man?
So the five minutes lengthened into
ten, and by the time the division was called, and
Wharton hurried off, Marcella, soothed, taken out of
herself, rescued from the emptiness and forlornness
of a tragic moment, had given him more conscious cause
than she had ever given him yet to think her kind