But why? Ah, if he had done this thing nothing else mattered, neither the how nor the why! If George had lied? . . . And the pendant—had that been bought in Plymouth and not (as he had asserted) in Truro? He had thrown away the case. Jewellers print their names inside such cases. The pendant was a handsome one. Perhaps his cheque-book would tell.
She arose, stepped half-way to the door, but came back and flung herself again upon the couch. No; she could not . . . this was the second time to-day . . . she could not face the torture again.
Yet . . . if George had lied!
She sat up; sat up with both hands pressed to her ears to shut out a sudden voice clamouring through them—
“And why not? A son’s a son—curse you!—though he was your man!”
Lizzie Pezzack had put Joey to bed and was smoothing his coverlet when she heard someone knocking. She passed out into the front room and opened to the visitor.
On the doorstep stood a lady in deep black—Honoria. Beyond the garden wall the lamps of her carriage blazed in the late twilight. The turf had muffled the sound of wheels, but now the jingle of shaken bits came loud through the open door.
“Ah!” said Lizzie, drawing her breath back through her teeth.
“I must speak to you, please. May I come in? I have a question . . .”
Lizzie turned her back, struck a match, and lit a candle. “What question?” she asked with her back turned, her eyes on the flame as it sank, warming the tallow, and grew bright again.
“It’s . . . it’s a question,” Honoria began weakly; then shut the door behind her and advanced into the room. “Turn round and look at me. Ah, you hate me, I know!”
“Yes,” Lizzie assented slowly, “I hate you.”
“But you must answer me. You see, it isn’t
for me alone . . . it’s not a question of our
hating, in a way . . .
it concerns others. . . .”
“But it’s cowardly of me to put it so, because it concerns me too. You don’t know—”
“Maybe I do.”
“But if you did—” Honoria broke off and then plunged forward desperately. “That child of yours—his father—alone here—by ourselves. . . . Think before you refuse!”
Lizzie set down the candle and eyed her.
“And you,” she answered at length, dragging out each word— “you can come here and ask me that question?”
For a moment silence fell between them, and each could hear the other’s breathing. Then Honoria drew herself up and faced her honestly, casting out both hands.
“Yes; I had to.”
“You! a lady!”
“Ah, but be honest with me! Lady or not, what has that to do with it? We are two women—that’s where it all started, and we’re kept to that.”