She reproduced it as accurately as she could, read it through again, and then pushed it aside. With set lips she resumed her work, and by midnight she had put in the last stitch and fastened the last thread. That she should do so was essential to the plan she had in her mind. For she had already determined what to do. Within forty-eight hours she would be in London. If he had really disowned and betrayed her—or if he had merely grown tired of her and wished to be quit of her—in either case she would soon discover what it behoved her to know.
When at last, in the utter silence of midnight, she took up her candle to go to bed, its light fell, as she moved towards the door, on the portrait of himself that Fenwick had left with her at Christmas. She looked at it long, dry-eyed. It was as though it began already to be the face of a stranger.
Eugenie, are you there?’
Lord Findon, peering short-sightedly into the big drawing-room, obstructed by much furniture and darkened by many pictures, had not at first perceived the slender form of his daughter. The April day was receding, and Eugenie de Pastourelles was sitting very still, her hands lightly clasped upon a letter which lay outspread upon her lap. These moments of pensive abstraction were characteristic of her. Her life was turned within; she lived more truly in thought than in speech or action.
Lord Findon came in gaily. ‘I say, Eugenie, that fellow’s made a hit.’
‘What fellow, papa?’
’Why, Fenwick, of course. Give me a cup of tea, there’s a dear. I’ve just seen Welby, who’s been hob-nobbing with somebody on the Hanging Committee. Both pictures accepted, and the portrait will be on the line in the big room—the other very well hung, too, in one of the later rooms. Lucky dog! Millais came up and spoke to me about him—said he heard we had discovered him. Of course, there’s lots of criticism. Drawing and design, modern and realistic—the whole painting method, traditional and old-fashioned, except for some wonderful touches of pre-Raphaelitism—that’s what most people say. Of course, the new men think it’ll end in manner and convention; and the old men don’t quite know what to say. Well, it don’t much matter. If he’s genius, he’ll do as he likes—and if he hasn’t—’