One hateful night when she had been with Charlesworth to a private dance to which Ida had refused to go, dining instead with Dermot, who had no invitation to the affair, the blow fell. After her return to the hotel her treacherous friend had crept into her room, weeping and imploring her sympathy. Too late, she sobbed on Noreen’s shoulder, she had found her soul-mate, the man destined for her through the past aeons, the one man who could make her happy and whose existence she alone could complete. Why had she met Dermot too late? Why was she tied to a clod, mated to a clown? Why were two lives to be wrecked?
As Noreen listened amazed an icy hand seemed to clutch her shrinking heart. Was this true? Did Dermot really care for Ida? Could the man whom she had revered as a white-souled knight be base enough to make love to another man’s wife?
Then the demon of jealousy poisoned her soul. She got the weeping Ida back to her bed, and sat in her own dark room until the dawn came, her brain in a whirl, her heart filled with a fierce hatred of Dermot. And when next day, his business finished, he had to leave Darjeeling, she made a point of absenting herself with Charlesworth from the hotel at the time when Dermot had arranged to come to say good-bye.
But long before the train in which he travelled down to the Plains was half-way to Siliguri, the girl lay on her bed, her face buried in her pillow, her body shaken with silent but convulsive sobs.
And Dermot stared out into the thick mist that shrouded the mountains and enfolded his downward-slipping train and wondered if his one-time little friend of the forest would be happy in the new life that, according to her bosom-friend and confidant, Mrs. Smith, would open to her as Charlesworth’s wife as soon as she spoke the word that was trembling on her lips.
And he sighed unconsciously. Then he frowned as the distasteful memory recurred to him of the previous night, when a wanton woman, misled by vanity and his courteous manner, had shamelessly offered him what she termed her love and forced him to play the Joseph to a modern Mrs. Potiphar.
THE FEAST OF THE GODDESS KALI
The Rains were nearing their end, and with them the Darjeeling Season was drawing to a close. To Noreen Daleham it had lost its savour since Dermot’s departure. Her feelings towards Ida had undergone a radical change; her admiration of and affection for her old schoolfellow had vanished. Her eyes were opened, and she now saw plainly the true character of the woman whom once she was proud to call her friend. The girl wondered that she could have ever been deceived, for she now understood the many innuendoes that had been made in her hearing against Mrs. Smith, as well as many things in that lady’s own behaviour that had perplexed her at the time.