As Fenwick crossed the Rue de la Paroisse, a lady on the other side of the road, who was hurrying in the opposite direction, stopped suddenly at sight of him, and stared excitedly. She was a woman no longer young, much sunburnt, with high cheek-bones and a florid complexion. He did not notice her, and after a moment’s hesitation she resumed her walk.
He went into the Park, where the statues shone flamelike amid the bronze and orange of the trees, where the water of the fountains was dyed in blue and rose, and all the faded magnificence and decaying grace of the vast incomparable scene were kindling into an hour’s rich life, under the last attack of the sun. He wandered a while, restless and unhappy—yet always counting the hours till he should see the slight, worn figure which for a year had been hidden from him.
He dined in the well-known restaurant, wandered again in the mild dusk, then mounted to his room and worked a while at some of the sketches he was making for his new commission. While he was so engaged, a carriage drew up below, and two persons descended. He recognised Lord Findon, much aged and whitened in these last years. The lady in deep mourning behind him paused a moment on the broad pathway, and looked round her, at the hill of the chateau, at the bright lights in the restaurant. She threw back her veil, and Fenwick’s heart leapt as he recognised the spiritual beauty, the patient sweetness of a face which through twelve troubled years had kept him from evil and held him to good—had been indeed ’the master light’ of all his seeing.
And to his best and only friend he had lied, persistently and unforgiveably, for twelve years. There was the sting—and there the pity of it.
Eugenie de Pastourelles was sitting on the terrace at Versailles. Or rather she was established in one of the deep embrasures between the windows, on the western side. The wind was cold, but again a glorious sun bathed the terrace and the chateau. It was a day of splendour—a day when heaven and earth seemed to have conspired to flatter and to adorn the vast creation of Louis Quatorze, this white, flaming palace, amid the gold and bronze of its autumn trees, and the blue of its waters. Superb clouds, of a royal sweep and amplitude, sailed through the brilliant sky; the woods that girdled the horizon were painted broadly and solidly in the richest colour upon an immense canvas steeped in light. In some of the nearer alleys which branch from the terrace, the eye travelled, through a deep magnificence of shade, to an arched and framed sunlight beyond, embroidered with every radiant or sparkling colour; in others, the trees, almost bare, met lightly arched above a carpet of intensest green—a tapis vert stretching toward a vaporous distance, and broken by some god, or nymph, on whose white shoulders the autumn leaves were dropping softly one by one.