She heard the door open into the corridor, but even then Vincent did not immediately come. Miss Gregory had been waiting to say good-by to him. As a case he was finished. Adelaide heard her clear voice say gaily:
“Well, I’m off, Mr. Vincent.”
They went back into the room and shut the door. Adelaide clenched her hands; these delays were hard to bear.
It was not a long delay, though in that next room a very human bond was about to be broken. Possibly if Vincent had done exactly what his impulses prompted, he would have taken Miss Gregory in his arms and kissed her. But instead he said quietly, for his manner had not much range:
“I shall miss you.”
“It’s time I went.”
“To some case more interestingly dangerous?”
“Your case was dangerous enough for me,” said the girl; and then for fear he might miss her meaning, “I never met any one like you, Mr. Farron.”
“I’ve never been taken care of as you took care of me.”
“I wish”—she looked straight up at him—“I could take care of you altogether.”
“That,” he answered, “would end in my taking care of you.”
“And your hands are pretty full as it is?”
He nodded, and she went away without even shaking hands. She omitted her farewells to any other member of the family except Pringle, who, Farron heard, was congratulating her on her consideration for servants as he put her into her taxi.
Then he opened the door of his study, went to the chair he had risen from, and took up the paper at the paragraph at which he had dropped it. Adelaide’s eyes followed him like search-lights.
“May I ask,” she said with her edged voice, “if you have been disposing of my child’s future in there without consulting me?”
If their places had been reversed, Adelaide would have raised her eyebrows and repeated, “Your child’s future?” but Farron was more direct.
“I have been engaging Wayne as a secretary,” he said, and, turning to the financial page, glanced down the quotations.
“Then you must dismiss him again.”
“He will be a useful man to me,” said Farron, as if she had not spoken. “I have needed some one whom I could depend on—”
“Vincent, it is absurd for you to pretend you don’t know he wanted to marry Mathilde.”
He did not raise his eyes.
“Yes,” he said; “I remember you and I had some talk about it before my operation.”
“Since then circumstances have arisen of which you know nothing—things I did not tell you.”
“Do you think that was wise?”
With a sense that a rapid and resistless current was carrying them both to destruction she saw for the first time that he was as angry as she.
“I do not like your tone,” she said.
“What’s the matter with it?”
“It isn’t polite; it isn’t friendly.”
“Why should it be?”