The girl bent over her grandfather, saying: “Hush! hush! You mustn’t excite yourself.” But old David’s gray face was working, and his eyes gleamed from their cavernous shadows with a savage fire.
“If the boy is staying away out of spite,” he repeated, “he need never come back to me. I won’t forgive him.” He beat his unemployed hand upon the table before him, and the things which lay there jumped and danced. “And if he waits until I’m dead and then comes back,” said he, “he’ll find he has made a mistake—a great mistake. He’ll find a surprise in store for him, I can tell you that. I won’t tell you what I have done, but it will be a disagreeable surprise for Master Arthur, you may be sure.”
The old gentleman fell to frowning and muttering in his choleric fashion, but the fierce glitter began to go out of his eyes and his hands ceased to tremble and clutch at the things before him. The girl was silent, because again there seemed to her to be nothing that she could say. She longed very much to plead her brother’s cause, but she was sure that would only excite her grandfather, and he was growing quieter after his burst of anger. She bent down over him and kissed his cheek.
“Try to go to sleep,” she said. “And don’t torture yourself with thinking about all this. I’m as sure that poor Arthur is not staying away out of spite as if he were myself. He’s foolish and headstrong, but he’s not spiteful, dear. Try to believe that. And now I’m really going. Good-night.” She kissed him again and slipped out of the room. And as she closed the door she heard her grandfather pull the bell-cord which hung beside him and summoned the excellent Peters from the room beyond.
* * * * *
JASON SETS FORTH UPON THE GREAT ADVENTURE
Miss Benham stood at one of the long drawing-room windows of the house in the rue de l’Universite, and looked out between the curtains upon the rather grimy little garden, where a few not very prosperous cypresses and chestnuts stood guard over the rows of lilac shrubs and the box-bordered flower-beds and the usual moss-stained fountain. She was thinking of the events of the past month, the month which had elapsed since the evening of the De Saulnes’ dinner-party. They were not at all startling events; in a practical sense there were no events at all, only a quiet sequence of affairs which was about as inevitable as the night upon the day—the day upon the night again. In a word, this girl, who had considered herself very strong and very much the mistress of her feelings, found, for the first time in her life, that her strength was as nothing at all against the potent charm and magnetism of a man who had almost none of the qualities she chiefly admired in men. During the month’s time she had passed from a phase of angry self-scorn through a period of bewilderment not unmixed with fear, and from that she had come into an unknown world, a land very strange to her, where old standards and judgments seemed to be valueless—a place seemingly ruled altogether by new emotions, sweet and thrilling, or full of vague terrors as her mood veered here or there.