Mathilde blinked her eyes. Gratitude and delight had brought tears to them.
“He thinks you’re wonderful, Mr. Farron,” she answered a little huskily.
“Better and better,” answered Vincent, and he held out his hand for a letter that Pringle was bringing to him on a tray.
“What’s that?” asked Adelaide. One of the first things she had impressed on Joe Severance was that he must never inquire about her mail; but she always asked Farron about his.
He seemed to be thinking and didn’t answer her.
Mathilde, now simply insatiable, pressed nearer to him and asked:
“And what do you think of Mrs. Wayne?”
He raised his eyes from the envelope, and answered with a certain absence of tone:
“I thought she was an elderly wood-nymph.”
Adelaide glanced over his shoulder, and, seeing that the letter had a printed address in the corner, lost interest.
“You may shut the house, Pringle,” she said.
Pringle, the last servant up, was soon heard discreetly drawing bolts and turning out electric lights. Mathilde went straight up-stairs without even an attempt at drawing her mother into an evening gossip. She was aware of being tired after two nights rendered almost sleepless by her awareness of joy. She went to her room and shut the door. Her bed was piled high with extra covers, soft, light blankets and a down coverlet covered with pink silk. She took a certain hygienic pride in the extent to which she always opened her bedroom windows even when, as at present, the night was bitterly cold. In the morning she ran, huddling on her dressing-gown, into a heated bathroom, and when she emerged from this, the maid had always lighted her fire, and laid her breakfast-tray close to the blaze. To-night, when she went to open her window, she noticed that the houses opposite had lost courage and showed only cracks. She stood a second looking up at the stars, twinkling with tiny blue rays through the clear air. By turning her head to the west she could look down on the park, with its surface of bare, blurred tree-branches pierced by rows of lights. The familiar sight suddenly seemed to her almost intolerably beautiful. “Oh, I love him so much!” she said to herself, and her lips actually whispered the words, “so much! so much!”
She threw the window high as a reproof of those shivers across the way, and, jumping into bed, hastily sandwiched her small body between the warm bedclothes. She was almost instantly asleep.
Overhead the faint, but heavy, footfall of Pringle ceased. The house was silent; the city had become so. An occasional Madison Avenue car could be heard ringing along the cold rails, or rhythmically bounding down hill on a flat wheel. Once some distance away came the long, continuous complaint of the siren of a fire-engine and the bells and gongs of its comrades; and then a young man went past, whistling with the purest accuracy of time and tune the air to which he had just been dancing.