She checked him with a gesture.
“It is you who can’t understand. Do you think I’m heartless?”
“Nothing could make me think hardly of you,” he declared.
“Then show me some respect and consideration. It was what I looked for; I felt I was safe with you.”
Though he had not expected strong opposition, he saw that she was determined. He had been too precipitate, and while he had no idea of abandoning his purpose, he bowed.
“If I’ve offended, you must forgive me—I thought of nothing beyond my longing for you. That won’t change or diminish, but I’ve been rash and have startled you. I must wait.”
He watched her in keen anxiety, but Sylvia gave no hint of her feelings. As a matter of fact, she was wondering why she had checked and repulsed him. She could not tell. A sudden impulse had swayed her, but she was not sorry she had yielded to it. Her hold on the man was as strong as ever; the affair was not ended.
There was silence for the next few minutes. It was growing dark; the hills had faded to blurs of shadows, and the moor ran back, a vast, dim waste. Then a twinkling light moved toward them up the ascending road. Bland rose and pointed to it.
“I dare say the man has got the things he needed. We’ll be off again shortly,” he said in his usual manner; and Sylvia was grateful.
In another half-hour the car was ready, and when Bland helped Sylvia in and wrapped the furs about her, there was something new in his care for her comfort. It was a kind of proprietary gentleness which she did not resent. Then they sped away across the dusky moor.
HERBERT MAKES A CLAIM
Sylvia finished her round of visits in a state approaching insolvency. Mrs. Kettering, with whom she stayed some time, indulged in expensive amusements, and though she would have listened with good-humor to a plea of poverty, Sylvia declined to make it. She would not have Bland suspect the state of her affairs, and while he remained in the house she took her part in all that went on, which included card-playing for high stakes. As it happened, she had a steady run of misfortune. Bland sympathized with her and occasionally ventured a remonstrance, but she could see that the cheerful manner in which she faced her losses had its effect on him.
On the evening of her return, Herbert was strolling along the platform at a busy junction, in the gathering dusk, when he noticed Bland speaking to a porter. Soon afterward. Bland came toward him, and Herbert asked him if he were staying in the neighborhood.
“No,” said Bland; “I’m passing through; only been here half an hour. We’re probably on the same errand.”
“I came to meet Mrs. Marston,” Herbert told him. “And I broke my journey to town with the idea of being of some assistance when she changed.”