“Darling: Forgive me. I am sailing at dawn on the old tub, for South America—”
Here the note fell from the girl’s hand. Long she looked out of the window. Then she went back to the bit of paper, took it and held it against her breast before she again read. She seemed to know now what would be in it; the strange depression that had come over her after he had left last night was accounted for. Of course, he would not go back to New York with her; he would, or could, accept nothing, in the way she wished, from her or her aunt. It was necessary for him still to be Mr. Heatherbloom; he had not yet “found himself” fully; the beginning he had spoken of was only begun. The influential friends of his father in the financial world had become impossible aids; he had to continue as he had planned, to go his own way, and his, alone. It would have been easy for him, as his father’s son and the prospective nephew of the influential Miss Van Rolsen, to have obtained one of those large salaried positions, or “sinecures”, with little to do. But that would be only beginning at the end once more.
Again she essayed to read. The letter would have been a little incomprehensible to any one except herself, but she understood. There were three “darlings”; inexcusable tautology! She kissed them all, but she kissed oftenest the end: “You will forgive me for forgetting myself—God knows I didn’t intend to—and you will wait; have faith? It is much to ask—too much; but if you will, I think my father’s son and he whom you have honored by caring for, may yet prove a little worthy—”
The words brought a sob to her throat; she threw herself back on the bed. “A little?” she cried, still holding the note tight in her hand. But after a spell of weeping, once more she got up and looked out of the window. The sunshine was very bright, the birds sang to her. Did she take heart a little? A great wave of sadness bowed her down, but courage, too, began to revive in her.
“Have faith?” She looked up at the sky; she would do as he asked—unto the grave, if need be. Then, very quietly, she dressed and went down-stairs.
It is very gay at the Hermitage, in Moscow, just after Easter, and so it was natural that Sonia Turgeinov should have been there on a certain bright afternoon some three years later. The theater, at which she once more appeared, was closed for the afternoon, and at this season following Holy Week and fasting, fashionables and others were wont to congregate in the spacious cafe and grounds, where a superb orchestra discourses classical or dashing selections. The musicians played now an American air.
“Some one at a table out there on the balcony sent a request by the head waiter for it,” said a member of Sonia Turgeinov’s party—a Parisian artist, not long in Moscow.
“An American, no doubt,” she answered absently, sipping her wine. The three years had treated her kindly; the few outward changes could be superficially enumerated: A little more embonpoint; a tendency toward a slight drooping at the corners of the mobile lips, and moments when the shadows seemed to stay rather longer in the deep eyes.