“As you like,” Joan said indifferently. She looked at Hugh resentfully.
“I do not consider it is either very clever or very considerate,” she said in a low voice, intended for him alone.
“I am sorry, but—but I couldn’t let you go yet. You—you don’t understand, Joan!” he stammered.
She shrugged her shoulders; she went with them because she must. She could not create a scene, but she would take her revenge. She promised herself that, and she did. She scarcely spoke a word during the luncheon. She ate nothing; she looked about her with an air of indifference. Twice she deliberately yawned behind her hand, hoping that he would notice; and he did, and it hurt him cruelly, as she hoped it might.
But she kept the worst sting for the last.
“Please,” she said to the waiter, “make out the bills separately—mine and this lady’s together, and the gentleman’s by itself.”
“Joan!” he said, as the waiter went his way, and his voice was shocked and hurt.
“Oh really, you could hardly expect that I would wish you to spend any of your—eight thousand a year on me!”
Hugh flushed. He bent his head. His eight thousand a year that once he had held out as a bait to her, and yet, Heaven knew, he had not meant it so. He had only meant to be frank with her.
He was hurt and stung, as she meant he should be, and seeing it, her heart misgave her, and she was sorry. But it was too late, and she must not confess weakness now.
There was a cold look in his face, a bitterness about his mouth she had never seen before. When he rose he held out his hand to Mrs. Everard; he thanked her for coming here with him, and then he gave Joan the coldest of cold bows. He held no hand out to her, he had no speech for her. Only one word, one word that once before he had flung at her, and now flung into her face again.
“Ungenerous!” he said, so that she alone could hear, and then he was gone, and Helen looked after him. And then, turning, she glanced at Joan, and saw that there were tears in the girl’s grey eyes.
THE INVESTIGATIONS OF MR. SLOTMAN
“And who the dickens,” said Lady Linden, “is Mister—Philip what’s-his-name? I can’t see it—what’s his name, Marjorie?” Lady Linden held out the card to the girl.
“It—it is—Slotman, auntie,” Marjorie said.
“Don’t sniff, child. You’ve got a cold; go up to my room, and in the medical—”
“I haven’t a cold, auntie.”
“Don’t talk to me. Go and get a dose of ammoniated tincture of quinine. As for this Mr. Slotman—unpleasant name—what the dickens does he want of me?”
Marjorie did not answer.
Slotman was being shewn into the drawing-room a few moments later. He was wearing his best clothes and best manner. This Lady Linden was an aristocratic dame, and Mr. Slotman had come for the express purpose of making himself very agreeable.