All the day, as she had gone about from one thing to another, her mind had been diligently seeking in some event of the outside world an explanation of a slight obscuration of his spirit; but her heart, more egotistical, had stoutly insisted that the cause must lie in her. Did he love her less? Was she losing her charm for him? Were five years the limit of a human relation like theirs? Was she to watch the dying down of his flame, and try to shelter and fan it back to life as she had seen so many other women do?
Or was the trouble only that she had done something to wound his aloof and sensitive spirit, seldom aloof to her? Their intimate life had never been a calm one. Farron’s interests were concentrated, and his temperament was jealous. A woman couldn’t, as Adelaide sometimes had occasion to say to herself, keep men from making love to her; she did not always want to. Farron could be relentless, and she was not without a certain contemptuous obstinacy. Yet such conflicts as these she had learned not to dread, but sometimes deliberately to precipitate, for they ended always in a deeper sense of unity, and, on her part, in a fresh sense of his supremacy.
If he had been like most of the men she knew, she would have assumed that something had gone wrong in business. With her first husband she had always been able to read in his face as he entered the house the full history of his business day. Sometimes she had felt that there was something insulting in the promptness of her inquiry, “Has anything gone wrong, Joe?” But Severance had never appeared to feel the insult; only as time went on, had grown more and more ready, as her interest became more and more lackadaisical, to pour out the troubles and, much more rarely, the joys of his day. One of the things she secretly admired most about Farron was his independence of her in such matters. No half-contemptuous question would elicit confidence from him, so that she had come to think it a great honor if by any chance he did drop her a hint as to the mood that his day’s work had occasioned. But for the most part he was unaffected by such matters. Newspaper attacks and business successes did not seem to reach the area where he suffered or rejoiced. They were to be dealt with or ignored, but they could neither shadow or elate him.
So that not only egotism, but experience, bade her look to her own conduct for some explanation of the chilly little mist that had been between them for twenty-four hours.
As soon as the drawing-room door closed behind her she ran up-stairs like a girl. There was no light in his study, and she went on into his bedroom. He was lying on the sofa; he had taken off his coat, and his arms were clasped under his head; he was smoking a long cigar. To find him idle was unusual. His was not a contemplative nature; a trade journal or a detective novel were the customary solace of odd moments like this.
He did not move as she entered, but he turned his eyes slowly and seriously upon her. His eyes were black. He was a very dark man, with a smooth, brown skin and thick, fine hair, which clung closely to his broad, rather massive head. He was clean shaven, so that, as Adelaide loved to remember a friend of his had once suggested, his business competitors might take note of the stern lines of his mouth and chin.