She rose slowly to her feet. Her eyes seemed to be dilating.
“There is another woman!” she exclaimed softly. Her voice was like velvet, but the agony in her face was unmistakable.
“There is no other woman,” he answered.
She stood quite still.
“She is here with you now,” she cried. “Who is it, Wingrave? Tell me the truth!”
“The truth is already told,” he answered. “Except my cook and her assistants, there is not a woman in the house!”
Again she listened. She gave a little hoarse cry, and Wingrave started. Out in the hall a girl’s clear laugh rang like a note of music to their ears.
“You lie!” she cried fiercely. “You lie! I will know who she is.”
Suddenly the door was thrown open! Juliet stood there, her hands full of roses, her face flushed and brilliant with smiles.
“How delightful to find you here!” she exclaimed, coming swiftly across to Wingrave. “I do hope you won’t mind my coming. Normandy is off, and I have nowhere else to go.”
She saw Lady Ruth and stopped.
“Oh! I beg your pardon!” she exclaimed. “I did not know.”
“This is Lady Ruth Barrington,” Wingrave said; “my ward, Miss Juliet Lundy.”
“Your—ward?” Lady Ruth said, gazing at her intently.
“Sir Wingrave has been very kind to me since I was a child,” she said softly. “He has let me live here with Mrs. Tresfarwin, and I am afraid I sometimes forget that it is not really my home. Am I in the way?” she asked, looking wistfully towards Wingrave.
“By no means!” he exclaimed. “Lady Ruth is just going. Will you see that she has some tea or something?”
Lady Ruth laughed quietly.
“I think,” she said, “that it is I who am in the way! I should love some tea, if there is time, but whatever happens, I must not miss that train.”
It seemed to Wingrave that the days which followed formed a sort of hiatus in his life—an interlude during which some other man in his place, and in his image, played the game of life to a long-forgotten tune. He moved through the hours as a man in a maze, unrecognizable to himself, half unconscious, half heedless of the fact that the garments of his carefully cultivated antagonism to the world and to his fellows had slipped very easily from his unresisting shoulders. The glory of a perfect English midsummer lay like a golden spell upon the land. The moors were purple with heather, touched here and there with the fire of the flaming gorse, the wind blew always from the west, the gardens were ablaze with slowly bursting rhododendrons. Every gleam of coloring, every breath of perfume, seemed to carry him unresistingly back to the days of his boyhood. He fished once more in the trout streams; he threw away his stick, and tramped or rode with Juliet across the moors. At night time she sang or played with the windows open, Wingrave himself out of sight under the cedar trees, whose perfume filled with aromatic sweetness the still night air. Piles of letters came every day, which he left unopened upon his study table. Telegrams followed, which he threw into the wastepaper basket. Juliet watched the accumulating heap with amazement.