“It was a stupid thing to say. Please consider it unsaid.”
The silence deepened, till she broke it again—
“I see Mr. Radowitz sometimes. Won’t you like to know that he is composing a symphony for his degree? He is always working at it. It makes him happy—at least—contented.”
“Yes, I am glad. But nothing can ever make up to him. I know that.”
“No—nothing,” she admitted sadly.
“Or to me!”
Constance started. They had reached the last gate.
Falloden threw himself off his horse to open it and as she rode through, she looked down into his face. Its proud regularity of feature, its rich colour, its brilliance, seemed to her all blurred and clouded. A flashing insight showed her the valley of distress and humiliation through which this man had been passing. His bitter look, at once of challenge and renunciation, set her trembling; she felt herself all weakness; and suddenly the woman in her—dumbly, unguessed—held out its arms.
But he knew nothing of it. Rather her attitude seemed to him one of embarrassment—even of hauteur. It was suddenly intolerable to him to seem to be asking for her pity. He raised his hat, coldly gave her a few directions as to her road home, and closed the gate behind her. She bowed and in another minute he was cantering away from her, towards the sunset.
Connie went on blindly, the reins on her horse’s neck, the passionate tears dropping on her hands.
Douglas Falloden rode home rapidly after parting from Connie. Passion, impatience, bitter regret consumed him. He suffered, and could not endure to suffer. That life, which had grown up with him as a flattering and obsequious friend, obeying all his whims, yielding to all his desires, should now have turned upon him in this traitorous way, inflicting such monstrous reprisals and rebuffs, roused in him the astonishment and resentment natural to such a temperament.
He, too, drew rein for a moment at the spot where Connie had looked out over Flood Castle and its valley. The beautiful familiar sight produced in him now only a mingling of pain and irritation. The horrid thing was settled, decided. There was no avoiding ruin, or saving his inheritance. Then why these long delays, these endless discomforts and humiliations? The lawyers prolonged things because it paid them to do so; and his poor father wavered and hesitated from day to day, because physically and morally he was breaking up. If only his father and mother would have cleared out of Flood at once—they were spending money they could not possibly afford in keeping it up—and had left him, Douglas, to do the odious things, pay the creditors, sell the place, and sweep up the whole vast mess, with the help of the lawyers, it would have been infinitely best. His own will felt itself strong and determined