“I think some one has been run down,” said Ste. Marie. “Shall we have a look?” They quickened their pace and came to where the group of people stood in a circle looking upon the ground, and two gendarmes asked many questions and wrote voluminously in their little books. It appeared that a delivery boy mounted upon a tricycle cart had turned into the wrong side of the avenue and had got himself run into and overturned by a motor-car going at a moderate rate of speed. For once the sentiment of those mysterious birds of prey which flock instantaneously from nowhere round an accident, was against the victim and in favor of the frightened and gesticulating chauffeur.
Ste. Marie turned an amused face from this voluble being to the other occupants of the patently hired car, who stood apart, adding very little to the discussion. He saw a tall and bony man with very bright blue eyes and what is sometimes called a guardsman’s mustache—the drooping, walruslike ornament which dates back a good many years now. Beyond this gentleman he saw a young woman in a long, gray silk coat and a motoring veil. He was aware that the tall man was staring at him rather fixedly and with a half-puzzled frown, as though he thought that they had met before and was trying to remember when, but Ste. Marie gave the man but a swift glance. His eyes were upon the dark face of the young woman beyond, and it seemed to him that she called aloud to him in an actual voice that rang in his ears. The young woman’s very obvious beauty, he thought, had nothing to do with the matter. It seemed to him that her eyes called him. Just that. Something strange and very potent seemed to take sudden and almost tangible hold upon him—a charm, a spell, a magic—something unprecedented, new to his experience. He could not take his eyes from hers, and he stood staring.
As before, on the Pont de la Concorde, Hartley touched him on the arm, and abruptly the chains that had bound him were loosened.
“We must be going on, you know,” the Englishman said, and Ste. Marie said, rather hurriedly:
“Yes, yes, to be sure! Come along!” But at a little distance he turned once more to look back. The chauffeur had mounted to his place, the delivery boy was upon his feet again, little the worse for his tumble, and the knot of bystanders had begun to disperse, but it seemed to Ste. Marie that the young woman in the long silk coat stood quite still where she had been, and that her face was turned toward him, watching.
“Did you notice that girl?” said Hartley, as they walked on at a brisker pace. “Did you see her face? She was rather a tremendous beauty, you know, in her gypsyish fashion. Yes, by Jove, she was!”
“Did I see her?” repeated Ste. Marie. “Yes. Oh yes. She had very strange eyes. At least, I think it was the eyes. I don’t know. I’ve never seen any eyes quite like them. Very odd!”