“I think I want him for his innocence.”
Yes; she was tired of love-making whose down had been rubbed off; she hungered for love-making with the down still on, even if she must pay for it with marriage. Who shall say if her enlightened and modern eye could not look beyond such marriage (when it should grow monotonous) to divorce?
XXI: Hortense’s Cigarette Goes Out
John was the riddle that I could not read. Among my last actions of this day was one that had been almost my earliest, and bedtime found me staring at his letter, as I stood, half undressed, by my table. The calm moon brought back Udolpho and what had been said there, as it now shone down upon the garden where Hortense had danced. I stared at John’s letter as if its words were new to me, instead of being words that I could have fluently repeated from beginning to end without an error; it was as if, by virtue of mere gazing at the document, I hoped to wring more meaning from it, to divine what had been in the mind which had composed it; but instead of this, I seemed to get less from it, instead of more. Had the boy’s purpose been to mystify me, he could scarce have done better. I think that he had no such intention, for it would have been wholly unlike him; but I saw no sign in it that I had really helped him, had really shaken his old quixotic resolve, nor did I see any of his having found a new way of his own out of the trap. I could not believe that the dark road of escape had taken any lodgement in his thought, but had only passed over it, like a cloud with a heavy shadow. But these are surmises at the best: if John had formed any plan, I can never know it, and Juno’s remarks at breakfast on Sunday morning sounded strange, like something a thousand miles away. For she spoke of the wedding, and of the fact that it would certainly be a small one. She went over the names of the people who would have to be invited, and doubted if she were one of these. But if she should be, then she would go—for the sake of Miss Josephine St. Michael, she declared. In short, it was perfectly plain that Juno was much afraid of being left out, and that wild horses could not drag her away from it, if an invitation came to her. But, as I say, this side of the wedding seemed to have nothing to do with it, when I thought of all that lay beneath; my one interest to-day was to see John Mayrant, to get from him, if not by some word, then by some look or intonation, a knowledge of what he meant to do. Therefore, disappointment and some anxiety met me when I stepped from the Hermana’s gangway upon her deck, and Charley asked me if he was coming. But the launch, sent back to wait, finally brought John, apologizing for his lateness.