The result of the telephoning—a much longer process then than it is now—was slightly more satisfactory. Sir Benjamin Grant’s report, the Foreign Office official informed them, was that Mr. Derringham’s condition was much more hopeful, but that the most complete quiet for some time would be absolutely necessary.
“John is so strong,” Mr. Carlyon said, as he put down the receiver which he had with difficulty manipulated—to Halcyone’s trembling impatience. “He will pull through. And all I can do is to wait. He will probably be up at the end of my fortnight, when I get back home.” And he looked relieved.
“They would not give him a letter from you, of course, I suppose?” said Halcyone. “If his head has been hurt it will be a long time before he is allowed to read.”
“I am interested,” she went on, looking down. “You will let me know, at Grosvenor Gardens, directly you hear anything, will you not, Master?—I—” and then her voice broke a little.
And Cheiron stirred in his chair. It was all paining him horribly, but until he could be sure what would be best for her he must not show his sympathy.
“I will send Demetrius with the answer when it comes, and I will telegraph to Wendover morning and night, dear child,” he said. “I knew you would feel for me.” And with this, the sad little comedy between them ended, for Halcyone got up to leave.
“Thank you, Cheiron,” was all she said.
Mr. Carlyon took her down to the door and put her in the waiting hansom which she had forgotten to dismiss, and he paid the man and reluctantly let her go back alone.
She was too stunned and wretched to take in anything. The streets seemed a howling pandemonium upon this June morning at the season’s full height, and all the gayly dressed people just beginning to be on their way to the park for their morning stroll appeared a mockery as she passed down Piccadilly.
Whether she had been missed or no, she cared not, and getting out, rang the bell with numbed unconcern, never, even noticing the surprised face of the footman as she passed him and ran up the long flights of stairs to her room, fortunately meeting no one on the way. Here Priscilla awaited her, having successfully hidden her absence. It was half past ten o’clock.
Halcyone went to the window and looked out upon the trees in the triangular piece of green. They were not her trees, but they were still Nature, of a stunted kind, and they would understand and comfort her or, at all events, enable her to regain some calm.
She took in deep breaths, and gradually a peace fell upon her. Her friend God would never desert her, she felt.
And Priscilla said to herself:
“She’s prayin’ to them Immortals, I expect. Well, whoever she prays to, she is a precious saint.”