Johnny was hardly listening. He was looking down the dusky road and seeing in imagination a face, the most beautiful, wonderful face that his world had ever held.
“I don’t know, Gipsy girl,” he said. “I don’t know!”
“No!” Ellice said; and her voice shook and quavered in an unnatural laugh. “You don’t know, Johnny; you don’t know!”
And Connie, who heard and understood, shivered a little at the sound of the girl’s laughter.
“He does not love me now”
“Tom,” said Lady Linden, “is by no means a fool, Marjorie.”
“He has ideas. I don’t say that they are brilliant, but he gets the germ of a plan into his brain. And now I will tell you what he suggests about Partridge’s cottage and land when the lease falls in.”
Lady Linden proceeded to explain Tom Arundel’s idea, and Marjorie sat and stared out into the garden and thought of Hugh.
Was he at Hurst Dormer now? If not, where was he? What was he doing? What was he thinking about? Did he still love her, or had he fallen in love with Joan? And, if he had, would he marry Joan? and if not.
“So there you see, and what do you think of that?” asked Lady Linden, coming to the end of her remarks.
“I think it would be very nice!”
“Very nice!” Lady Linden snorted. “Very nice! What a feeble remark. My good Marjorie, do you take no intelligent interest in anything? Upon my word, now I come to look back I wonder at myself, I do indeed. I wonder at myself to think that a man like Hugh Alston, an intellectual, deep-thinking man, a man with common-sense and plenty of it—what was I saying? Oh yes, I wonder at myself for ever hoping or believing that a man like Hugh could fall in love with a silly little donkey like you. And yet men do, even clever men—I’ve known several quite clever men fall in love with perfect fools of women. But I was wrong, and you are right. I see it now. Tom Arundel is the man for you; you are fitted for one another. He is not quite a fool, but you are. He’s not clever enough to be annoyed by your folly. Hugh, on the other hand, would positively dislike you after a month. There! don’t howl, for goodness’ sake—don’t snivel, child! Run away and play with your doll”
“Patience!” said Lady Linden, when her niece went out—“I have the patience of ten Jobs rolled into one. She’s a good little soul, but an awful idiot! And bless my wig!” added her ladyship, who did not wear one, but her own luxuriant hair, “what’s that hopeless idiot of a Perkins doing with those standard roses?” She sallied out, battle in her eyes, to tell Perkins, the under-gardener, something about the culture of roses, and incidentally to point out what her opinion of himself was in plain and straightforward language.