“Please God,” thought poor Billy, “I will make her happy. Yes, please God, I can at least do that, since she cares for me.”
Then he kissed her.
“My dear,” said he, aloud, “I’ll try to make you happy. And—and you don’t mind, do you, if I leave you now?” queried this ardent lover. “You see, it’s absolutely necessary I should see—see Miss Hugonin about this will business. You don’t mind very much, do you—darling?” Mr. Woods inquired of her, the last word being rather obviously an afterthought.
“No,” said she. “Not if you must—dear.”
Billy went away, lugging a heart of lead in his breast.
Kathleen stared after him and gave a hard, wringing motion of her hands. She had done what many women do daily; the thing is common and sensible and universally commended; but in her own eyes, the draggled trollop of the pavements was neither better nor worse than she.
At the entrance of the next walkway Billy encountered
Kennaston—alone and in the most ebulliently mirthful of humours.
But we had left Mr. Kennaston, I think, in company with Miss Hugonin, at the precise moment she inquired of him whether it were not the strangest thing in the world—referring thereby to the sudden manner in which she had been disinherited.
The poet laughed and assented. Afterward, turning north from the front court, they descended past the shield-bearing griffins—and you may depend upon it that each shield is adorned with a bas-relief of the Eagle—that guard the broad stairway leading to the formal gardens of Selwoode. The gardens stretch northward to the confines of Peter Blagden’s estate of Gridlington; and for my part—unless it were that primitive garden that Adam lost—I can imagine no goodlier place.
On this particular forenoon, however, neither Miss Hugonin nor Felix Kennaston had eyes for its comeliness; silently they braved the griffins, and in silence they skirted the fish-pond—silver-crinkling in the May morning—and passed through cloistral ilex-shadowed walks, and amphitheatres of green velvet, and terraces ample and mellow in the sunlight, silently. The trees pelted them with blossoms; pedestaled in leafy recesses, Satyrs grinned at them apishly, and the arrows of divers pot-bellied Cupids threatened them, and Fauns piped for them ditties of no tone; the birds were about shrill avocations overhead, and everywhere the heatless, odourful air was a caress; but for all this, Miss Hugonin and Mr. Kennaston were silent and very fidgetty.
Margaret was hatless—and the glory of the eminently sensible spring sun appeared to centre in her hair—and violet-clad; and the gown, like most of her gowns, was all tiny tucks and frills and flounces, diapered with semi-transparencies—unsubstantial, foam-like, mere violet froth. As she came starry-eyed through the gardens, the impudent wind trifling with her hair, I protest she might have been some lady of Oberon’s court stolen out of Elfland to bedevil us poor mortals, with only a moonbeam for the changeable heart of her, and for raiment a violet shadow spirited from the under side of some big, fleecy cloud.