“Lady Constance?” he said, affecting indifference.
“And Mrs. Mulholland. I believe I see their carriage.”
And Falloden, peering into the stormy twilight, opened the garden door and passed out into the rain.
Otto remained motionless, bent over the fire. Sorell was talking with the ex-scout in the dining-room, impressing on him certain medical directions. Radowitz suddenly felt himself singularly forlorn, and deserted. Of course, Falloden and Constance would marry. He always knew it. He would have served to keep them together, and give them opportunities of meeting, when they might have easily drifted entirely apart. He laughed to himself as he thought of Connie’s impassioned cry—“I shall never, never, marry him!” Such are the vows of women. She would marry him; and then what would he, Otto, matter to her or to Falloden any longer? He would have been no doubt a useful peg and pretext; but he was not going to intrude on their future bliss. He thought he would go back to Paris. One might as well die there as anywhere.
There were murmurs of talk and laughter in the hall. He sat still, hugging his melancholy. But when the door opened, he rose quickly, instinctively; and, at the sight of the girl coming in so timidly behind Mrs. Mulholland, her eyes searching the half-lit room, and the smile, in them and on her lips, held back till she knew whether her poor friend could bear with smiles, Otto’s black hour began to lift. He let himself, at least, be welcomed and petted; and when fresh tea had been brought in, and the room was full of talk, he lay back in his chair, listening, the deep lines in his forehead gradually relaxing. He was better, he declared, a great deal better; in fact there was very little at all the matter with him. His symphony was to be given at the Royal College of Music early in the year. Everybody had been awfully decent about it. And he had begun a nocturne that amused him. As for the doctors, he repeated petulantly that they were all fools—it was only a question of degree. He intended to manage his life as he pleased in spite of them.
Connie sat on a high stool near him while he talked. She seemed to be listening, but he once or twice thought, resentfully, that it was a perfunctory listening. He wondered what else she was thinking about.
The tea was cleared away. And presently the three others had disappeared. Otto and Constance were left alone.
“I have been reading so much about Poland lately,” said Constance suddenly. “Oh, Otto, some day you must show me Cracow!”
His face darkened.
“I shall never see Cracow again. I shall never see it with you.”
“Why not? Let’s dream!”
The smiling tenderness in her eyes angered him. She was treating him like a child; she was so sure he never could—or never would—make love to her!