Bettina, who had opened the door for Selwyn on his last visit, and who had informed me the next day that she had “shivered with trembles” because of his great difference to the men in Scarborough Square, for the second time looked up at me.
“What is he doing down here?” Her finger pointed in the direction of the man and woman just ahead of us. “What’s he talking to that girl for?”
I did not answer her at once. Amazement and unbelief were making my heart hot, and a flood of color burned my face. Of all men on earth, Selwyn was the last to find in this part of the town at this time of the evening, and as he bent his head to speak to the girl I noticed he was talking earnestly and using his hands in expressive gestures as he talked. Starting forward, I took a few steps and then stopped, sharply.
“I don’t know what he is doing down here. Certainly he is at liberty to come here just as we come.”
Bettina’s eyes strained in the darkness. “I can’t see her face. If we cross over we can catch up with them by the time they reach the corner where we could see her in the light.” The grip of my hand on her arm made her stop. “I mean—”
“You don’t know what you mean.”
It was silly, childish, unreasonable, that I should speak sharply to Bettina, and equally unreasonable that fear and horror and sickening suspicion should possess me, but possessed I was by sensations hitherto unexperienced, and for a moment the gaslight from the lamp on the opposite street corner wavered and circled in a confusing, bewildering way. Sudden revelations, sudden realizations, were unsteadying me. Was Selwyn really some one I did not know? Was his life less single than I believed it? Hateful, ugly, disloyal questions surged tumultuously for a half-minute; then reason returned, and shame that I should insult him with doubt, cooled the flame in my face.
“It’s too late to go to the Binkers. We’d better go home. We’ll go there some other afternoon.”
I turned from Bettina’s amazed eyes. My tone of voice a moment before was still perplexing her, and unblinkingly she was searching my face. Hitherto her directness, her frankness of speech and use of words, had amused me, and I had permitted, perhaps, too great an exercise of her gift of comment; but applied personally it was a different matter.
“We’ll go to the corner and turn there,” I said. “That will be the nearest way home.”
“But don’t you want to see who she is?” Scarborough Square customs were those most familiar to Bettina, and they exacted understanding of doubtful situations. “Don’t you want to see what—what she looks like?”
“Why should I? Mr. Thorne knows many people I do not know.” I moved toward the corner. “Come on. It’s getting late.”
“Gentlemen like him don’t know girls like her. She lives down here somewhere, and he lives where you used to live. He couldn’t be sweet on her, because—because he couldn’t.” She caught up with me. “He’s yours, ain’t he, Miss Danny? You’d better tell him—”