“I know you can paint the picture,” she said, “but you have no model for the girl. How shall you imagine her?”
“I said that I would paint you in the scene,” he answered slowly.
“But I am not young, as she was; am not—so good to look at.”
“I said that I saw beauty in the girl’s face. I can only see it through yours.”
Her hands clasped tightly before her. Her eyes turned full on him for an instant, then looked away into the dusk. There was silence for a long time now. His cigar burned brightly. People kept passing and repassing on the terrace below them. Their serious silence was noticeable.
“A penny for your thoughts,” she said gayly, yet with a kind of wistfulness.
“You would be thrown away at the price.”
These were things that she longed yet dreaded to hear. She was not free (at least she dreaded so) to listen to such words.
“I am sorry for that girl, God knows!” he added.
“She lived to be always sorry for herself. She was selfish. She could have thrived on happiness. She did not need suffering. She has been merry, gay, but never happy.”
“The sequel was sad?”
“Will you tell me—the scene?”
“I will, but not to-night.” She drew her hands across her eyes and forehead. “You are not asking merely as the artist now?” She knew the answer, but she wanted to hear it.
“A man who is an artist asks, and he wishes to be a friend to that woman, to do her any service possible.”
“Who can tell when she might need befriending?”
He would not question further. She had said all she could until she knew who the stranger was.
“I must go in,” she said. “It is late.”
“Tell me one thing. I want it for my picture—as a key to the mind of the girl. What did she say at that painful meeting in the woods—to the man?”
Mrs. Detlor looked at him as if she would read him through and through. Presently she drew a ring from her finger slowly and gave it to him, smiling bitterly.
“Read inside. That is what she said.”
By the burning end of his cigar he read, “You told a lie.”
At another hotel a man sat in a window looking out on the esplanade. He spoke aloud.
“‘You told a lie,’ was all she said, and as God’s in heaven I’ve never forgotten I was a liar from that day to this.”
The next morning George Hagar was early at the pump-room. He found it amusing to watch the crowds coming and going—earnest invalids and that most numerous body of middle aged, middle class people who have no particular reason for drinking the waters, and whose only regimen is getting even with their appetites. He could pick out every order at a glance—he did not need to wait until he saw the tumblers at their