As he stood by the window, he perceived the Hoopers’ parlourmaid coming up Beaumont Street and looking at the numbers on the houses. He ran out to meet her, and took a note from her hand.
“I will send or bring an answer. You needn’t wait.” He carried it into his own room, and locked the door before opening it.
* * * * *
“Dear Mr. Falloden,—Mr. Sorell has just been here. He left Mr. Radowitz at a nursing home after seeing the surgeons. It is all terrible. The hand is badly poisoned. They hope they may save it, but the injuries will make it impossible for him ever to play again as he has done. He may use it again a little, he may compose of course, but as a performer it’s all over. Mr. Sorell says he is in despair—and half mad. They will watch him very carefully at the home, lest he should do himself any mischief. Mr. Sorell goes back to him to-morrow. He is himself broken-hearted.
“I am very, very sorry for you—and for Lord Meyrick,—and everybody. But I can’t get over it—I can’t ever forget it. There is a great deal in what you said this afternoon. I don’t deny it. But, when it’s all said, I feel I could never be happy with you; I should be always afraid of you—of your pride and your violence. And love mustn’t be afraid.
“This horrible thing seems to have opened my eyes. I am of course very unhappy. But I am going up to-morrow to see Mr. Radowitz, who has asked for me. I shall stay with my aunt, Lady Langmoor, and nurse him as much as they will let me. Oh, and I must try and comfort him! His poor music!—it haunts me like something murdered. I could cry—and cry.
“Good night—and good-bye!
The two notes fell at Falloden’s feet. He stood looking out into Beaumont Street. The long narrow street, which only two days before had been alive with the stream of Commemoration, was quiet and deserted. A heavy thunder rain was just beginning to plash upon the pavements; and in the interval since he had taken the note from the maid’s hand, it seemed to Falloden that the night had fallen.
“So, Connie, you don’t want to go out with me this afternoon?” said Lady Langmoor, bustling into the Eaton Square drawing-room, where Connie sat writing a letter at a writing-table near the window, and occasionally raising her eyes to scan the street outside.
“I’m afraid I can’t, Aunt Sophia. You remember, I told you, Mr. Sorell was coming to fetch me.”
Lady Langmoor looked rather vague. She was busy putting on her white gloves, and inspecting the fit of her grey satin dress, as she saw it in the mirror over Connie’s head.
“You mean—to see the young man who was hurt? Dreadfully sad of course, and you know him well enough to go and see him in bed? Oh, well, of course, girls do anything nowadays. It is very kind of you.”