“You look very lovely,” he smiled at her.
She was shimmering in silvery blue, her eyes like cloudy star sapphires, her hair like primroses and ashes.
In the motor she leant against him, a discreet gentle pressure. She always gave you a feeling of delicately intertwined reticencies and avowals, a faint New England flavouring which she had never lost.
“I do hope they’ll like me,” she murmured.
Dinner was a great success. Lucy loved her neighbours and her neighbours loved her, while secretly congratulating themselves on having always been right about Boston (which they had never visited and of which they knew nothing).
After dinner a few guests trickled in for the tiny dance that was to follow. It was all very much as Lucy had imagined it, old ladies delighted by her youth, old men delighted by her prettiness. Every one saying that she was very un-American (by which they meant unlike the Americans they had known).
Then, suddenly, a hushed silence grabbed hold of all the various conversations. Tony got up. His hostess was saying, “I want to present Mrs. Everill.” Some one in a corner gave a little suppressed laugh, Lucy looked.
She saw a thin, dark woman with charming irregular features and a figure which looked as if it had been put into her black velvet dress with a shoehorn, and she heard her say in a low voice which somehow seemed to creep inside shut parts of you, “Tony and I are very old friends.” They were coming straight to her and then, next thing she knew was that voice again, saying, “Mrs. Everill, you must forgive me if I say that, for the moment, you are to me, just Tony’s wife. But, of course, I know that to be that you must be a great many other things besides.”
Lucy knew that every one was looking at them, not at her, Lucy, the bride (and she had been so proud and happy—childishly happy—to be a bride), not at Tony, not even at Lady Dynevor, but at them, at the situation. It seemed to Lucy so indecent, so vulgar.
“You will love Lucy, Vivian,” Tony said quietly, and Lucy looked up at the charming, gracious apparition so dominant, with her beautifully friendly manner. Her eyes looked as if she could never find the bottom, as if tears were just going to well up and drown them.
“Of course I shall,” she said, and there was a little edge on her voice, as if it were going to break. That was the feeling she gave you, Lucy thought, of being on the brink of something, a tenseness like the moment when the conductor’s baton is raised before you have been released by the music.
“How ill you look,” Tony was saying. Vivian laughed,
“You always said that, do you remember——?”
Conversation was buzzing again. Lucy turned to her neighbour. Through what he was saying, she could hear Tony—“your white velvet dress—do you remember...?”
She got up to dance. The room seemed to whirl round her while she stood quite still.