And thinking this, she resolved in her own mind that she would come, and unconsciously raised her eyes to Edgar with a look of such intensity, and as it seemed to him such reproach, that it startled him as much as if she had called him by his name and asked him sadly, Why?
IS THIS LOVE?
It seemed as if the evening was to bring no more satisfaction to the three whom the morning had so greatly disturbed than had that morning itself. Edgar avoided the two girls at the ball as much as he had avoided them at the breakfast, dancing only once with each, and not making even that one dance pleasant. Under cover of brotherly familiarity he teased Adelaide till she had the greatest difficulty in keeping her temper; while he was so preternaturally respectful to Leam, whom he wished he had not been forced to respect at all, that it seemed as if they had met to-night for the first time, and were not quite so cordial as sympathetic strangers would have been.
It was only a quadrille that they were dancing, a stupid, silent, uninteresting set of figures which people go through out of respect for ancient usage, and for which no one cares. Leam would have refused to take part in it at all had any one but Major Harrowby asked her. But he was different from other men, she thought; and it became her to say “Yes” when he said “Will you?” if only because he was the master of the house.
Leam had made considerable progress in her estimate of the proprieties. The unseen teacher who had informed her of late was apparently even more potent than those who had first broken up the fallow ground at Bayswater, and taught her that las cosas de Espana were not the things of the universe, and that there was another life and mode of action besides that taught by mamma.
But when Leam thoroughly understood the master’s mood, and thus made it clear to herself that the evening’s formality was simply a continuance of the morning’s avoidance, after looking at him once with one of those profound looks of hers which made him almost beside himself, she set her head straight, turned her eyes to the floor, and lapsed into a silence as unbroken as his own. She was too proud and shy to attempt to conciliate him, but she wondered why he was so changed to her. And then she wondered, as she had done this morning, why she was so unhappy to-night. Was it because her father had married Josephine Harrowby? Why should that make her sad? She did not think now that her mother was crying in heaven because another woman was in her place; and for herself it made no difference whether there was a step-mother at home or no. She could not be more lonely than she was; and with Josephine at the head of affairs she would have less responsibility. No, it was not that which was making her unhappy; and yet she was almost as miserable to-night as she had been when madame was brought home as papa’s wife, and her fancy gave her mamma’s beloved face weeping there among the stars—abandoned by all but herself, forsaken even by the saints and the angels.