So Cynthia sighed, and to comfort her forlorn condition fetched a hand-mirror from the shelves whereon glowed her green cups. She touched each cup caressingly in passing; and that which she found in the mirror, too, she regarded not unappreciatively, from varying angles.... Yes after all, dark hair and a pale skin had their advantages at a court where pink and yellow women were so much the fashion as to be common. Men remembered you more distinctively. Though nobody cared for men, in view of their unreasonable behaviour, and their absolute self-centeredness.... Oh, it was pitiable, it was grotesque, she reflected sadly, how Pevensey and Kitt Marlowe had both failed her, after so many pretty speeches.
Still, there was a queer pleasure in being wooed by Kit: his insane notions went to one’s head like wine. She would send Meg for him again to-morrow. And Pevensey was, of course, the best match imaginable.... No, it would be too heartless to dismiss George Bulmer outright. It was unreasonable of him to desert her because a Gascon threatened to go to mass; but, after all, she would probably marry George in the end. He was really almost unendurably silly, though, about England and freedom and religion, and right and wrong things like that. Yes, it would be tedious to have a husband who often talked to you as though he were addressing a public meeting.... However, he was very handsome, particularly in his highflown and most tedious moments; that year-old son of his was sickly and would probably die soon, the sweet, forlorn little pet, and not be a bother to anybody: and her dear old father would be profoundly delighted by the marriage of his daughter to a man whose wife could have at will a dozen celadon cups, and anything else she chose to ask for....
But now the sun had set, and the room was growing quite dark. So Cynthia stood a-tiptoe, and replaced the mirror upon the shelves, setting it upright behind those wonderful green cups which had anew reminded her of Pevensey’s wealth and generosity. She smiled a little, to think of what fun it had been to hold George back, for two whole weeks, from discharging that horrible old queen’s stupid errands.
TREATS PHILOSOPHICALLY OF BREAKAGE
The door opened. Stalwart young Captain Edward Musgrave came with a lighted candle, which he placed carefully upon the table in the room’s centre.
He said: “They told me you were here. I come from London. I bring news for you.”
“You bring no pleasant tidings, I fear—”
“As Lord Pevensey rode through the Strand this afternoon, on his way home, the Plague smote him. That is my sad news. I grieve to bring such news, for your cousin was a worthy gentleman and universally respected.”
“Ah,” Cynthia said, very quiet, “so Pevensey is dead. But the Plague kills quickly!”
“Yes, yes, that is a comfort, certainly. Yes, he turned quite black in the face, they report, and before his men could reach him had fallen from his horse. It was all over almost instantly. I saw him afterward, hardly a pleasant sight. I came to you as soon as I could. I was vexatiously detained—”