“This confinement to the house is getting quite on my nerves. I must really allow myself a little holiday.—Take a drive to-morrow if Frederic is no worse. I will call at the Grand Hotel, I think, and see darling Damaris, just for a few minutes, myself.”
Information which went far to restore her hearer’s equanimity. His affairs, as he recognized, were in actively astute safe-keeping.
Marshall Wace spent the rest of the morning in the drawing-room of the villa, at the piano, composing a by no means despicable setting of Shelley’s two marvellous stanzas, which commence:
“Rarely, rarely comest thou,
Spirit of Delight!
Wherefore hast thou left me now
Many a day and night?”
The rich baritone voice, vibrant with apparent passion, swept out through the open windows, across the glittering garden. Miss Maud Callowgas, walking along that portion of the esplanade immediately in front of the hotel, paused in the grilling sunshine to listen. Heaven upon earth seemed to open before her pale, white-lashed eyes. If she could only ascertain what fortune she might eventually count on possessing—but Mama was so dreadfully close about everything to do with money! The Harchester bishopric was a fat one, worth from ten to fifteen thousand a year. That she knew from the odious, impudent questions asked about it by some horrible nonconformist member, in the House of Commons, just after her father’s death. Surely Mama must have saved a considerable amount out of so princely an income? She had always kept down expenses at the Palace. The servants left so often because they declared they had not enough to eat.
Then through the open window of the villa embowered in roses, there amid the palms and pines—and in a falling cadence too:
“How shall ever one like me
Win thee back again?”
But Maud Callowgas needed no winning, being very effectually won already, so it was superfluous thus movingly to ask the question. The mid-day sun striking through her black-and-white parasol made her feel dizzy and faint.—If only she could learn the amount of her fortune, she could let Mrs. Frayling learn the amount of it too—just casually, in the course of conversation, and then—Everyone said Mrs. Frayling was doing her best to “place” her cousin-by-marriage, to secure him a well-endowed wife.
WHICH IT IS TO BE FEARED SMELLS SOMEWHAT POWERFULLY OF BILGE WATER
Warm wind, hot sun, the confused sound and movement of a great southern port, all the traffic and trade of it, man and beast sweating in the splendid glare. Rattle of cranes, scream of winches, grind of wheels, and the bellowing of a big steamer, working her way cautiously through the packed shipping of the basin, to the blue freedom of the open sea.—Such was the scene which the boatswain and white-jacketed steward, leaning their folded arms on the bulwarks and smoking, lazily watched.