With a conscience clear enough for all practical purposes, he then mounted his horse, rode over to the Dower House, and sent in his card to Lady Julia Territon. Lady Julia was probably well posted up; at any rate, she received him with kindness and without surprise, and, after the proper amount of conversation, told him she believed he would find Claudia in the morning-room. Would he stay to lunch? and would he excuse her if she returned to her occupations? Eugene prevaricated about the lunch, for the invitation was obviously, though tacitly, a contingent one, and conceded the lady’s excuses with as respectable a show of sincerity as was to be expected. Then he turned his steps to the morning-room, declining announcement, and knocked at the door.
“Oh, come in,” said Claudia, in a tone that clearly implied, “if you won’t let me alone and stay outside.”
“Perhaps she doesn’t know who it is,” thought Eugene, trying to comfort himself as he opened the door.
Lady Claudia is Vexed with Mankind.
Of course she knew who it was, and her uninviting tone was a result of her knowledge. We are yet awaiting a systematic treatise on the psychology of women; perhaps they will some day be trained highly enough to analyze themselves. Until this happens, we must wait; for no man unites the experience and the temperament necessary. This could be proved, if proof were required; but, happily, proof of assertions is not always required, and proof of this one would lead us into a long digression, bristling with disputable matter, and requiring perhaps hardly less rare qualities than the task of writing the treatise itself. The modest scribe is reduced to telling how Claudia behaved, without pretending to tell why she behaved so, far less attempting to group her under a general law. He is comforted in thus taking a lower place by the thought that after all nobody likes being grouped under general laws—it is more interesting to be peculiar—and that Claudia would have regarded such an attempt with keen indignation; and by the further thought that if you once start on general laws, there’s no telling where you will stop. The moment you get yours nicely formulated, your neighbor comes along with a wider one, and reduces it to a subordinate proposition, or even to the humiliating status of a mere example. Now even philosophers lose their temper when this occurs, while ordinary mortals resort to abuse. These dangers and temptations may be conscientiously, and shall be scrupulously, avoided.