Farron shook his head.
“No, not to-day.”
“She’s terribly afraid I am going to be moved by insults to desert her,” Wayne urged.
“I’ll see she understands. I’ll send for you in a day or two; then it will be all right.” They shook hands. He was glad Farron showed him out through the corridor and not through the study, where, he knew, Mrs. Farron was still waiting like a fine, sleek cat at a rat-hole.
During this interview Adelaide sat in her husband’s study and waited. She looked back upon that other period of suspense—the hour when she had waited at the hospital during his operation—as a time of comparative peace. She had been able then, she remembered, to sit still, to pursue, if not a train of thought, at least a set of connected images; but now her whole spirit seemed to be seething with a sort of poison that made her muscles jerk and start and her mind dart and faint. Then she had foreseen loss through the fate common to humanity; now she foresaw it through the action of her own tyrannical contempt for anything that seemed to her weak.
She had never rebelled against coercion from Vincent. She had even loved it, but she had loved it when he had seemed to her a superior being; coercion from one who only yesterday had been under the dominion of nerves and nurses was intolerable to her. She was at heart a courtier, would do menial service to a king, and refuse common civility to an inferior. She knew how St. Christopher had felt at seeing his satanic captain tremble at the sign of the cross; and though, unlike the saint, she had no intention of setting out to discover the stronger lord, she knew that he might now any day appear.
From any one not an acknowledged superior that shut door was an insult to be avenged, and she sat and waited for the moment to arrive when she would most adequately avenge it. There was still something terrifying in the idea of going out to do battle with Vincent. Hitherto in their quarrels he had always been the aggressor, had always startled her out of an innocent calm by an accusation or complaint. But this, as she said to herself, was not a quarrel, but a readjustment, of which probably he was still unaware. She hoped he was. She hoped he would come in with his accustomed manner and say civilly, “Forgive me for shutting the door; but my reason was—”
And she would answer, “Really, I don’t think we need trouble about your reasons, Vincent.” She knew just the tone she would use, just the expression of a smile suppressed. Then his quick eyes would fasten themselves on her face, and perhaps at the first glance would read the story of his defeat. She knew her own glance would not waver.
At the end of half an hour she heard the low tones of conversation change to the brisk notes of leave-taking. Her heart began to beat with fear, but not the kind of fear that makes people run away; rather the kind that makes them abdicate all reason and fan their emotions into a sort of inspiring flame.