“Bilsworth has managed to get here on one of the horses, Sir Antony, and he says the last train is in, and no one arrived by it.”
“Very well,” said Antony, calmly. “You can shut up for the night.”
And the butler went out, softly closing the door behind him.
Before I opened my eyes next morning in my beautiful room a telegram came from Augustus—a long telegram written the night before, telling me that it was impossible to penetrate the fog that night, and I was to come up and join him at once in London, as he had just decided to go to the war with his Yeomanry. He could not keep out of it longer, as all his brother officers had volunteered, so he had felt obliged to do so, too. They were to start in less than three weeks.
“I shall go by the ten-o’clock train,” I told McGreggor, as I scribbled my reply. “I must get up at once. Ask for my breakfast to be brought up here.”
I was dressed by nine o’clock and sipping my chocolate.
The daintiness of the old Dresden china equipage pleased me, forced itself upon my notice in spite of the deep preoccupation of my mind.
An exquisite bunch of fresh roses lay on the tray, and a note from Antony—only a few words—hoping I had slept well and saying the brougham would be ready for me at half-past nine, and that he also was going to London.
McGreggor had left the room. Oh! am I very wicked? I kissed the writing before I threw the paper in the fire!
And so Augustus is going to the war, after all. It must have been some very strong influence which persuaded him to volunteer, he who hated the very thought.
I felt bitterly annoyed with myself that this news did not cause me any grief. I have been this man’s wife for five months, and his going into danger in a far country leaves me cold. But I did, indeed, grieve for his mother. Her many good qualities came back to me. This will be a terrible blow to her.
I looked up at the little pastel by La Tour. The sprightly French Marquise smiled back at me.
“Good-bye,” I said. “You, pretty Marquise, would call me a fool because to-day Antony is not my lover. But I—oh, I am glad!”
He did not even kiss my finger-tips last night. We parted sadly after a storm of words neither he nor I had ever meant to speak.
“Il s’en faut bien que nous commissions tout ce que nos passions nous font faire!”
Once more La Rochefoucauld has spoken truth.
Why the situation is as it is I cannot tell. In my bringing up, the idea of taking a lover after marriage seemed a more or less natural thing, and not altogether a deadly sin, provided the affair was conducted sans fanfaronnade, without scandal. It was not that grandmamma and the Marquis actually discussed such matters in my hearing, but the general tone of their conversation gave that impression.