But his purpose through it all remained stubbornly fixed; that, also, she knew. For nearly a year Aileen Moffatt’s fortune and Aileen Moffatt’s family connections had entered into all his calculations of the future. Only a few more years in the army, then retirement with ample means, a charming wife, and a seat in Parliament. To jeopardize a plan so manifestly desirable, so easy to carry out, so far-reaching in its favorable effects upon his life, for the sake of those hard and doubtful alternatives in which a marriage with Julie would involve him, never seriously entered his mind. When he suffered he merely said to himself, steadily, that time would heal the smart for both of them.
“Only one thing would be absolutely fatal for all of us—that I should break with Aileen.”
Julie read these obscure processes in Warkworth’s mind with perfect clearness. She was powerless to change them; but that afternoon she had, at any rate, beaten her wings against the bars, and the exhaustion and anguish of her revolt, her reproaches, were still upon her.
The spring night had fallen. The room was hot, and she threw a window open. Some thorns in the garden beneath had thickened into leaf. They rose in a dark mass beneath the window. Overhead, beyond the haze of the great city, a few stars twinkled, and the dim roar of London life beat from all sides upon this quiet corner which still held Lady Mary’s old house.
Julie’s eyes strained into the darkness; her head swam with weakness and weariness. Suddenly she gave a cry—she pressed her hands to her heart. Upon the darkness outside there rose a face, so sharply drawn, so life-like, that it printed itself forever upon the quivering tissues of the brain. It was Warkworth’s face, not as she had seen it last, but in some strange extremity of physical ill—drawn, haggard, in a cold sweat—the eyes glazed, the hair matted, the parched lips open as though they cried for help. She stood gazing. Then the eyes turned, and the agony in them looked out upon her.
Her whole sense was absorbed by the phantom; her being hung upon it. Then, as it faded on the quiet trees, she tottered to a chair and hid her face. Common sense told her that she was the victim of her own tired nerves and tortured fancy. But the memory of Cousin Mary Leicester’s second sight, of her “visions” in this very room, crept upon her and gripped her heart. A ghostly horror seized her of the room, the house, and her own tempestuous nature. She groped her way out, in blind and hurrying panic—glad of the lamp in the hall, glad of the sounds in the house, glad, above all, of Therese’s thin hands as they once more stole lovingly round her own.
The Duchess and Julie were in the large room of Burlington House. They had paused before a magnificent Turner of the middle period, hitherto unseen by the public, and the Duchess was reading from the catalogue in Julie’s ear.