“I am sorry,” he said simply. “Good night, everybody!”
They all wished him good-night—nobody stirred. He walked slowing into the front hall, waited for a moment and then accepted his coat and hat from a servant. Lady Conyers waved to him from the staircase.
“Where’s Geraldine?” she asked.
Thomson turned away.
“They are all in the smoking-room, Lady Conyers,” he said. “Good night!”
In a way, their meeting the next morning was fortuitous enough, yet it had also its significance for both of them. Geraldine’s greeting was almost studiously formal.
“You are not going to scold me for my memory, are you?” Captain Granet asked, looking down at her with a faintly humorous uplifting of the eyebrows. “I must have exercise, you know.”
“I don’t even remember telling you that I came into the Park in the mornings,” Geraldine replied.
“You didn’t—that is to say you didn’t mention the Park particularly,” he admitted. “You told me you always took these five dogs out for a walk directly after breakfast, and for the rest I used my intelligence.”
“I might have gone into Regent’s Park or St. James’ Park,” she reminded him.
“In which case,” he observed, “I should have walked up and down until I had had enough of it, and then gone away in a bad temper.”
“Don’t be foolish,” she laughed. “I decline absolutely to believe that you had a single thought of me when you turned in here. Do you mind if I say that I prefer not to believe it?”
He accepted the reproof gracefully.
“Well, since we do happen to have met,” he suggested, “might I walk with you a little way? You see,” he went on, “it’s rather dull hobbling along here all alone.”
“Of course you may, if you like,” she assented, glancing sympathetically at his stick. “How is your leg getting on?”
“It’s better—getting on finely. So far as my leg is concerned, I believe I shall be fit to go out again within ten days. It’s my arm that bothers me a little. One of the nerves, the doctor said, must be wrong. I can only just lift it. You’ve no idea,” he went on, “how a game leg and a trussed-up arm interfere with the little round of one’s daily life. I can’t ride, can’t play golf or billiards, and for an unintelligent chap like me,” he wound up with a sigh, “there aren’t a great many other ways of passing the time.”
“Why do you call yourself unintelligent?” she protested. “You couldn’t have got through your soldiering so well if you had been.”
“Oh! I know all the soldier stuff,” he admitted, “know my job, that is to say, all right, and of course I am moderately good at languages, but that finishes me. I haven’t any brains like your friend Thomson, for instance.”
“Major Thomson is very clever, I believe,” she said a little coldly.