“All down those five flights?” he exclaimed.
“Every one of them!”
They commenced the descent.
“There is something about a flat,” she declared, “which makes one horribly curious about one’s neighbors—especially if one has never had any. All these closed doors may hide no end of interesting people, and I have never seen a soul go in or out. How did you like all this climbing?”
“I’m afraid I didn’t appreciate it,” he admitted.
“Perhaps you won’t come to see me again, then?” she asked. “I hope you will.”
“I will come,” he said a little stiffly, “with pleasure!”
They were on the ground floor, and Juliet opened the door. Wingrave’s motor was outside, and the man touched his hat. She gave a little breathless cry.
“It isn’t yours?” she exclaimed.
“Certainly,” he answered. “Do you want to come and look at it?”
“Rather!” she exclaimed. “I have never seen one close to in my life.”
“I’ll take you a little way, if you like,” he said.
Her cheeks were pink with excitement.
“If I like! And I’ve never been in one before! I’ll fly up for my hat. I sha’n’t be a moment.”
She was already halfway up the first flight of stairs, with a whirl of skirts and flying feet. Wingrave lit a cigarette and stood for a moment thoughtfully upon the pavement. Then he shrugged his shoulders. His face had grown a little harder.
“She must take her chances,” he muttered. “No one knows her. Nobody is likely to find out who she is.”
She was down again in less time than seemed possible. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes bright with excitement. Wingrave took the wheel himself, and she sat up by his side. They glided off almost noiselessly.
“We will go up to the Park,” he said. “It is just the time to see the people.”
“Anywhere!” she exclaimed. “This is too lovely!”
They passed from Battersea northwards into Piccadilly, and down into the Park. Juliet was too excited to talk; Wingrave had enough to do to drive the car. They passed plenty of people who bowed, and many who glanced with wondering admiration at the beautiful girl who sat by Wingrave’s side. Lady Ruth, who drive by quickly in a barouche, almost rose from her seat; the Marchioness, whose victoria they passed, had time to wave her hand and flash a quick, searching glance at Juliet, who returned it with her dark eyes filled with admiration. The Marchioness smiled to herself a little sadly as the car shot away ahead.
“If one asked,” she murmured to herself, “he would try to persuade one that it was another victim.”
Wingrave was present that evening at a reception given by the Prime Minister to some distinguished foreign guests. He had scarcely exchanged the usual courtesies with his host and hostess before Lady Ruth, leaning over from a little group, whispered in his ear.