A motor blew its horn for the street crossing. Another girl laughed; a young, thin, excited girl, to judge by her laughter. The curtains stirred and again there was that underlying scent of tulips and hyacinths; and then, from the hall outside, came the muffled thud of a receiver falling to the floor. Adrian waited. The receiver was not picked up. He strode to the door. Crumpled up over the telephone was old Mr. McCain.
Cecil came later. She was very quick and helpful, and jealously solicitous on Adrian’s account, but in the taxicab going home she said the one thing Adrian had hoped she wouldn’t say, and yet was sure she would. She belonged to a sex which, if it is honest at all, is never reticently so. She believed that between the man she loved and herself there were no possible mental withdrawals. “It is very tragic,” she said, “but much better—you know it is better. He belonged to the cumberers of the earth. Yes, so much better; and this way, too!”
In the darkness her hand sought his. Adrian took it, but in his heart was the same choked feeling, the same knowledge that something was gone that could not be found again, that, as a little boy, he had had when they sold, at his father’s death, the country place where he had spent his summers. Often he had lain awake at night, restless with the memory of heliotrope, and phlox, and mignonette, and afternoons quiet except for the sound of bees.
[Footnote 8: Frances Newbold Noyes, in Pictorial Review for December, 1920.]
The first time she heard it was in the silk-hung and flower-scented peace of the little drawing-room in Curzon Street. His sister Rosemary had wanted to come up to London to get some clothes—Victory clothes they called them in those first joyous months after the armistice, and decked their bodies in scarlet and silver, even when their poor hearts went in black—and Janet had been urged to leave her own drab boarding-house room to stay with the forlorn small butterfly. They had struggled through dinner somehow, and Janet had finished her coffee and turned the great chair so that she could watch the dancing fire (it was cool for May), her cloudy brown head tilted back against the rose-red cushion, shadowy eyes half closed, idle hands linked across her knees. She looked every one of her thirty years—and mortally tired—and careless of both facts. But she managed an encouraging smile at the sound of Rosemary’s shy, friendly voice at her elbow. “Janet, these are yours, aren’t they? Mummy found them with some things last week, and I thought that you might like to have them.”
She drew a quick breath at the sight of the shabby packet.
“Why, yes,” she said evenly. “That’s good of you, Rosemary. Thanks a lot.”
“That’s all right,” murmured Rosemary diffidently. “Wouldn’t you like something to read? There’s a most frightfully exciting Western novel——”