“But,” said she, “if the Fates are kind to me—and I sometimes think I have a pull with the gods—I’ll make you happy, Billy Woods, in spite of yourself.”
The mirror flashed back a smile. Margaret was strangely interested in the mirror.
“She has ringlets in her hair,” sang Margaret happily—a low, half-hushed little song. She held up a strand of it to demonstrate this fact.
“There’s a dimple in her chin”—and, indeed, there was. And a dimple in either cheek, too.
For a long time afterward she continued to smile at the mirror. I am afraid Kathleen Saumarez was right. She was a vain little cat, was Margaret.
But, barring a rearrangement of the cosmic scheme, I dare say maids will continue to delight in their own comeliness so long as mirrors speak truth. Let us, then, leave Miss Hugonin to this innocent diversion. The staidest of us are conscious of a brisk elation at sight of a pretty face; and surely no considerate person will deny its owner a portion of the pleasure that daily she accords the beggar at the street-corner.
We are credibly informed that Time travels in divers paces with divers persons—the statement being made by a lady who may be considered to speak with some authority, having triumphantly withstood the ravages of Chronos for a matter of three centuries. But I doubt if even the insolent sweet wit of Rosalind could have devised a fitting simile for Time’s gait at Selwoode those five days that Billy lay abed. Margaret could not but marvel at the flourishing proportion attained by the hours in those sunlit spring days; and at dinner, say, her thoughts harking back to luncheon, recalled it by a vigorous effort as an affair of the dim yester-years—a mere blurred memory, faint and vague as a Druidical tenet or a Merovingian squabble.
But the time passed for all that; and eventually—it was just before dusk—she came, with Martin Jeal’s permission, into the room where Billy was. And beside the big open fireplace, where a wood fire chattered companionably, sat a very pallid Billy, a rather thin Billy, with a great many bandages about his head.
You may depend upon it, Margaret was not looking her worst that afternoon. By actual count, Celestine had done her hair six times before reaching an acceptable result.
And, “Yes, Celestine, you may get out that pale yellow dress. No, beautiful, the one with the black satin stripes on the bodice—because I don’t want my hair cast completely in the shade, do I? Now, let me see—black feather, gloves, large pompadour, and a sweet smile. No, I don’t want a fan—that’s a Lydia Languish trade-mark. And two silk skirts rustling like the deadest leaves imaginable. Yes, I think that will do. And if you can’t hook up my dress without pecking and pecking at me like that, I’ll probably go stark, staring crazy, Celestine, and then you’ll be sorry. No, it isn’t a bit tight—are you perfectly certain there’s no powder behind my ears, Celestine? Now, please try to fasten the collar without pulling all my hair down. Ye-es, I think that will do, Celestine. Well, it’s very nice of you to say so, but I don’t believe I much fancy myself in yellow, after all.”