She had gone up as usual to Mass that morning, and had been astonished to find Laurie already in church; they had walked back together, and, to her surprise, he had told her that the Mass had been for his own intention.
She had answered as well as she could; but a sentence or two of his as they came near home had vaguely troubled her.
It was not that he had said anything he ought not, as a Catholic, to have said; yet her instinct told her that something was wrong. It was his manner, his air, that troubled her. What strange people these converts were! There was so much ardor at one time, so much chilliness at another; there was so little of that steady workaday acceptance of religious facts that marked the born Catholic.
“Mrs. Stapleton is a New Thought kind of person,” she said presently.
“So I understand,” said the old lady, with a touch of peevishness. “A vegetarian last year. And I believe she was a sort of Buddhist five or six years ago. And then she nearly became a Christian Scientist a little while ago.”
“I wonder what she’ll talk about,” she said.
“I hope she won’t be very advanced,” went on the old lady. “And you think I’d better not tell her about Laurie?”
“I’m sure it’s best not,” said the girl, “or she’ll tell him about Deep Breathing, or saying Om, or something. No; I should let Laurie alone.”
* * * * *
It was a little before one o’clock that the motor arrived, and that there descended from it at the iron gate a tall, slender woman, hooded and veiled, who walked up the little path, observed by Maggie from her bedroom, with a kind of whisking step. The motor moved on, wheeled in through the gates at the left, and sank into silence in the stable-yard.
“It’s too charming of you, dear Mrs. Baxter,” Maggie heard as she came into the drawing-room a minute or two later, “to let me come over like this. I’ve heard so much about this house. Lady Laura was telling me how very psychical it all was.”
“My adopted daughter, Miss Deronnais,” observed the old lady.
Maggie saw a rather pretty, passe face, triangular in shape, with small red lips, looking at her, as she made her greetings.
“Ah! how perfect all this is,” went on the guest presently, looking about her, “how suggestive, how full of meaning!”
She threw back her cloak presently, and Maggie observed that she was busy with various very beautiful little emblems—a scarab, a snake swallowing its tail, and so forth—all exquisitely made, and hung upon a slender chain of some green enamel-like material. Certainly she was true to type. As the full light fell upon her it became plain that this other-worldly soul did not disdain to use certain toilet requisites upon her face; and a curious Eastern odor exhaled from her dress.