He vaguely thought that he would both sound and warn Lady Henry. Warn her of what? He happened on the way home to have been thrown with a couple of Indian officers whose personal opinion of Harry Warkworth was not a very high one, in spite of the brilliant distinction which the young man had earned for himself in the Afridi campaign just closed. But how was he to hand that sort of thing on to Lady Henry?—and because he happened to have seen her lady companion and Harry Warkworth together? No doubt Mademoiselle Julie was on her employer’s business.
Yet the little encounter added somehow to his already lively curiosity on the subject of Lady Henry’s companion. Thanks to a remarkable physical resemblance, he was practically certain that he had guessed the secret of Mademoiselle Le Breton’s parentage. At any rate, on the supposition that he had, his thoughts began to occupy themselves with the story to which his guess pointed.
Some thirty years before, he had known, both in London and in Italy, a certain Colonel Delaney and his wife, once Lady Rose Chantrey, the favorite daughter of Lord Lackington. They were not a happy couple. She was a woman of great intelligence, but endowed with one of those natures—sensitive, plastic, eager to search out and to challenge life—which bring their possessors some great joys, hardly to be balanced against a final sum of pain. Her husband, absorbed in his military life, silent, narrowly able, and governed by a strict Anglicanism that seemed to carry with it innumerable “shalts” and “shalt nots,” disagreeable to the natural man or woman, soon found her a tiring and trying companion. She asked him for what he could not give; she coquetted with questions he thought it impious to raise; the persons she made friends with were distasteful to him; and, without complaining, he soon grew to think it intolerable that a woman married to a soldier should care so little for his professional interests and ambitions. Though when she pretended to care for them she annoyed him, if possible, still more.
As for Lady Rose, she went through all the familiar emotions of the femme incomprise. And with the familiar result. There presently appeared in the house a man of good family, thirty-five or so, traveller, painter, and dreamer, with fine, long-drawn features bronzed by the sun of the East, and bringing with him the reputation of having plotted and fought for most of the “lost causes” of our generation, including several which had led him into conflict with British authorities and British officials. To Colonel Delaney he was an “agitator,” if not a rebel; and the careless pungency of his talk soon classed him as an atheist besides. In the case of Lady Rose, this man’s free and generous nature, his independence of money and convention, his passion for the things of the mind, his contempt for the mode, whether in dress or politics, his light evasions of the red tape of life as of something that