“You will remember,” she said, looking into his eyes.
“I ain’t likely to forget anything you’ve said tonight,” he answered honestly. “But look here! Let me take you home—just this once! Give me something to think about.”
She shook her head.
“I will give you something to hope for,” she whispered. “You must not come a yard with me. When you come back it will, perhaps—be different.”
He remained behind the partition, gripping the packet tightly. Mademoiselle Violet took a hasty adieu of Mr. Sinclair, and descended to the street. She walked for a few yards, and then turned sharply to the left. A hansom, into which she stepped at once, was waiting there. She wrapped herself hastily in a long fur coat which lay upon the seat, and thrust her hand through the trap door.
“St. Martin’s Schoolroom!” she told the cabman.
Apparently Mademoiselle Violet combined a taste for philanthropy with her penchant for Islington dancing halls. She entered the little schoolroom and made her way to the platform, dispensing many smiles and nods amongst the audience of the concert, which was momentarily interrupted for her benefit. She was escorted on to the platform by a young and earnest-looking clergyman, and given a chair in the center of the little group who were gathered there. And after the conclusion of the song, the clergyman expressed his gratification to the audience that a lady with so many calls upon her time, such high social duties, should yet find time to show her deep interest in their welfare by this most kind visit. After which, he ventured to call upon Lady Barrington to say a few words.
In some respects, the voyage across the Atlantic was a surprise to Aynesworth. His companion seemed to have abandoned, for the time at any rate, his habit of taciturnity. He conversed readily, if a little stiffly, with his fellow passengers. He divided his time between the smoke room and the deck, and very seldom sought the seclusion of his state room. Aynesworth remarked upon this change one night as the two men paced the deck after dinner.
“You are beginning to find more pleasure,” he said, “in talking to people.”
Wingrave shook his head.
“By no means,” he answered coldly. “It is extremely distasteful to me.”
“Then why do you do it?” Aynesworth asked bluntly.
Wingrave never objected to being asked questions by his secretary. He seemed to recognize the fact that Aynesworth’s retention of his post was due to a desire to make a deliberate study of himself, and while his own attitude remained purely negative, he at no time exhibited any resentment or impatience.
“I do it for several reasons,” he answered. “First, because misanthropy is a luxury in which I cannot afford to indulge. Secondly, because I am really curious to know whether the time will ever return when I shall feel the slightest shadow of interest in any human being. I can only discover this by affecting a toleration for these people’s society, which I can assure you, if you are curious about the matter, is wholly assumed.”