After some little time, when only a quarter of an hour lay between the ship and Dover pier, he went back to Julie.
She was sitting perfectly still, her hands clasped in front of her, her veil drawn down.
“May I say one word to you?” he said, gently.
She did not speak.
“It is this. What I have confessed to you to-night is, of course, buried between us. It is as though it had never been said. I have given you pain. I ask your pardon from the bottom of my heart, and, at the same time”—his voice trembled—“I thank God that I had the courage to do it!”
She threw him a glance that showed her a quivering lip and the pallor of intense emotion.
“I know you think you were right,” she said, in a voice dull and strained, “but henceforth we can only be enemies. You have tyrannized over me in the name of standards that you revere and I reject. I can only beg you to let my life alone for the future.”
He said nothing. She rose, dizzily, to her feet. They were rapidly approaching the pier.
[Illustration: “HER HANDS CLASPED IN FRONT OF HER”]
With the cold aloofness of one who feels it more dignified to submit than to struggle, she allowed him to assist her in landing. He put her into the Victoria train, travelling himself in another carriage.
As he walked beside her down the platform of Victoria Station, she said to him:
“I shall be obliged if you will tell Evelyn that I have returned.”
“I go to her at once.”
She suddenly paused, and he saw that she was looking helplessly at one of the newspaper placards of the night before. First among its items appeared: “Critical state of Lord Lackington.”
He hardly knew how far she would allow him to have any further communication with her, but her pale exhaustion made it impossible not to offer to serve her.
“It would be early to go for news now,” he said, gently. “It would disturb the house. But in a couple of hours from now”—the station clock pointed to 6.15—“if you will allow me, I will leave the morning bulletin at your door.”
“You must rest, or you will have no strength for nursing,” he continued, in the same studiously guarded tone. “But if you would prefer another messenger—”
“I have none,” and she raised her hand to her brow in mute, unconscious confession of an utter weakness and bewilderment.
“Then let me go,” he said, softly.
It seemed to him that she was so physically weary as to be incapable either of assent or resistance. He put her into her cab, and gave the driver his directions. She looked at him uncertainly. But he did not offer his hand. From those blue eyes of his there shot out upon her one piercing glance—manly, entreating, sad. He lifted his hat and was gone.