After reflection he turned and went round by the back way into the garden. The curtains of the French windows were drawn, but it was a wet and windy night, and the draught occasionally lifted the edge of one of them. He crept like a thief up to his own window and looked in. The drawing-room was lighted, and in a low chair by the fire sat Belle. She was as usual dressed in black, and to Mr. Quest, who loved her, and who knew that he was about to bid farewell to the sight of her, she looked more beautiful now than ever she had before. A book lay open on her knee, and he noticed, not without surprise, that it was a Bible. But she was not reading it; her dimpled chin rested on her hand, her violent eyes were fixed on vacancy, and even from where he was he thought that he could see the tears in them.
She had heard nothing; he was sure of that from the expression of her face; she was thinking of her own sorrows, not of his shame.
Yes, he would go in.
HOW THE GAME ENDED
Mr. Quest entered the house by a side door, and having taken off his hat and coat went into the drawing-room. He had still half an hour to spare before starting to catch the train.
“Well,” said Belle, looking up. “Why are you looking so pale?”
“I have had a trying day,” he answered. “What have you been doing?”
“Nothing in particular.”
“Reading the Bible, I see.”
“How do you know that?” she asked, colouring a little, for she had thrown a newspaper over the book when she heard him coming in. “Yes, I have been reading the Bible. Don’t you know that when everything else in life has failed them women generally take to religion?”
“Or drink,” he put in, with a touch of his old bitterness. “Have you seen Mr. Cossey lately?”
“No. Why do you ask that? I thought we had agreed to drop that subject.”
As a matter of fact it had not been alluded to since Edward left the house.
“You know that Miss de la Molle will not marry him after all?”
“Yes, I know. She will not marry him because you forced him to give up the mortgages.”
“You ought to be much obliged to me. Are you not pleased?”
“No. I no longer care about anything. I am tired of passion, and sin and failure. I care for nothing any more.”
“It seems that we have both reached the same goal, but by different roads.”
“You?” she answered, looking up; “at any rate you are not tired of money, or you would not do what you have done to get it.”
“I never cared for money itself,” he said. “I only wanted money that I might be rich and, therefore, respected.”
“And you think any means justifiable so long as you get it?”
“I thought so. I do not think so now.”
“I don’t understand you to-night, William. It is time for me to go to dress for dinner.”