Madame de St. Andre looked after the clean-limbed, athletic young figure as it disappeared rapidly through the trees. And suddenly a keen regret for what she had done swept over her. Did she love him, then, that she should wish him back? She sank upon the bench with a beating heart. She would have called out to him, have brought him back to her side, but that her pride held her in check.
“What insolence!” she said, half-starting up. “And yet—and yet—’tis more to my liking than fine phrases! And it was true—what he said—had he been Monsieur le Duc de Montmorency or Monsieur de Villeroi—! At least I shall see him again—he will come back—they always do.” But though she smiled, a curious foreboding and a sort of fear seized upon her.
At the chateau Calvert found Mr. Jefferson making his adieux to Madame d’Azay and her guests. The horses had been ordered, and in a few minutes the gentlemen were ready to start. D’Azay walked with Calvert to where Bertrand stood holding them.
“’Tis an infernal shame, Ned,” he said, in a low tone, wringing the young man’s hand. “I guessed thy mission down here and thy face tells me how it has gone. As for myself, I would have wished for nothing better. Perhaps she may change her mind—all women do,” he added, hopefully. But Calvert only shook his head.
“She is for some greater and luckier man than I,” he said, quietly, taking the reins from Bertrand, and waving an adieu to the young lord as he rode down the avenue.
As d’Azay slowly made his way back to the chateau, Bertrand stood for a moment looking after him before mounting to follow Mr. Jefferson and Calvert.
“And so,” he said, half-aloud, “that was Monsieur’s reason for coming to Azay-le-Roi! And she won’t have him! All women are fools, and these great ladies seem to be the biggest fools of all. She will not find his equal among the white-livered aristocrats who swarm around her. I wish I could revenge Monsieur for this,” he said, savagely, and jumping on his horse he rode after the two gentlemen.
The journey back to Tours was made more quickly than coming, and Mr. Jefferson was so full of his visit to Azay-le-Roi as not to notice Calvert’s preoccupation and silence. They rode into the town in the late afternoon and made their way to the Boule d’Or, where Calvert, who had a sudden longing to be alone, left Mr. Jefferson writing letters, and strolled back into the old town.
Almost before he was aware of it he found himself in the little square before the great Cathedral. With a sudden impulse he entered and leaned against one of the fretted columns. A chorister was practising softly in the transept overhead. ’Twas the benedictus from one of Mozart’s masses.