“We’ll have a full report on him to-morrow. Do you know what his first name is?”
“At the moment I don’t recall his last. Oh, yes—Wayne. I’ll ask Mathilde when we go up-stairs.”
From her own bedroom door she called up.
“Mathilde, what is the name of your young friend?”
There was a little pause before Mathilde answered that she was sorry, but she didn’t know.
Mrs. Farron turned to her husband and made a little gesture to indicate that this ignorance on the girl’s part did not bear out his theory; but she saw that he did not admit it, that he clung still to his impression. “And Vincent’s impressions—” she said to herself as she went in to dress.
Mr. Lanley was ruffled as he left his daughter’s drawing-room.
“As if I had wanted her to marry at eighteen,” he said to himself; and he took his hat crossly from Pringle and set it hard on his head at the slight angle which he preferred. Then reflecting that Pringle was not in any way involved, he unbent slightly, and said something that sounded like:
Pringle, despite his stalwart masculine appearance, had in speaking a surprisingly high, squeaky voice.
“I keep my health, thank you, sir,” he said. “Anna has been somewhat ailing.” Anna was his wife, to whom he usually referred as “Mrs. Pringle”; but he made an exception in speaking to Mr. Lanley, for she had once been the Lanleys’ kitchen-maid. “Your car, sir?”
No, Mr. Lanley was walking—walking, indeed, more quickly than usual under the stimulus of annoyance.
Nothing had ever happened that made him suffer as he had suffered through his daughter’s divorce. Divorce was one of the modern ideas which he had imagined he had accepted. As a lawyer he had expressed himself as willing always to take the lady’s side; but in the cases which he actually took he liked to believe that the wife was perfect and the husband inexcusable. He could not comfort himself with any such belief in his daughter’s case.
Adelaide’s conduct had been, as far as he could see, irreproachable; but, then, so had Severance’s. This was what had made the gossip, almost the scandal, of the thing. Even his sister Alberta had whispered to him that if Severance had been unfaithful to Adelaide—But poor Severance had not been unfaithful; he had not even become indifferent. He loved his wife, he said, as much as on the day he married her. He was extremely unhappy. Mr. Lanley grew to dread the visits of his huge, blond son-in-law, who used actually to sob in the library, and ask for explanations of something which Mr. Lanley had never been able to understand.
And how obstinate Adelaide had been! She, who had been such a docile girl, and then for many years so completely under the thumb of her splendid-looking husband, had suddenly become utterly intractable. She would listen to no reason and brook no delay. She had been willing enough to explain; she had explained repeatedly, but the trouble was he could not understand the explanation. She did not love her husband any more, she said. Mr. Lanley pointed out to her that this was no legal grounds for a divorce.