If the old song be true which says that it is not so much the lover who woos as the lover’s way of wooing, Jaffery seemed to have thrown away his chances by adopting a very unfortunate way indeed. Doria proved to Barbara, urgently summoned to a bed of prostration and nervous collapse, that she would never set eyes again upon the unqualifiable savage by whom her holiest sentiments had been outraged and her person disgracefully mishandled. She poured out a blood-curdling story into semi-sympathetic ears. Barbara made short work of her contention that Jaffery ought to have respected her as he would have respected the wife of a living friend, characterising it as morbid and indecent nonsense; and with regard to the physical violence she declared that it would have served her right had he smacked her.
“If you want to be faithful to the memory of your first husband, be faithful,” she said. “No one can prevent you. And if a good man comes along with an honourable proposal of marriage, tell him in an honourable way why you can’t marry him. But don’t accept for months all a man has to give, and then, when he tells you what you’ve known perfectly well all along, treat him as if he were making shameful proposals to you—especially a man like Jaffery; I have no patience with you.”
Doria wept. No one understood her. No one understood Adrian. No one understood the bond there was between them. Of that she was aware. But when it came to being brutally assaulted by Jaffery Chayne, she really thought Barbara would sympathise. Wherefore Barbara, rather angry at being brought up to London on a needless errand, involving loss of dinner and upset of household arrangements, administered a sleeping-draught and bade her wake in the morning in a less idiotic frame of mind.
“Perhaps I behaved like a cat,” Barbara said to me later—to “behave like a cat” is her way of signifying a display of the vilest phases of feminine nature—“but I couldn’t help it. She didn’t talk a great deal of sense. It isn’t as if I had never warned her about the way she has been treating Jaffery. I have, heaps of times. And as for Adrian—I’m sick of his name—and if I am, what must poor old Jaff be?”
This she said during a private discussion that night on the whole situation. I say the whole situation, because, when she returned to Northlands, she found there a haggard ogre who for the first time in his life had eaten a canary’s share of an excellent dinner, imploring me to tell him whether he should enlist for a soldier, or commit suicide, or lie prone on Doria’s doormat until it should please her to come out and trample on him. He seemed rather surprised—indeed a trifle hurt—that neither of us called him a Satyr. How could we take his part and not Doria’s—especially now that Barbara had come from the bedside of the scandalously entreated lady? He boomed and bellowed about the drawing-room, recapitulating the whole story.