* * * * *
For myself I went out very slowly, five minutes after, and upstairs to my own chamber, and began to consider what things I must take with me on the morrow; for I would not stay another day in the house where I had been so insulted and denied.
Pride is a very good salve, when one has no humility; and it was Pride that I applied to myself to heal the wounds I had.
I came down again to the Great Chamber, half an hour later, very cold and dignified, and danced again, like the solemn fool that I was, first with one and then with another; and all the while I told myself, like the prophet that “I did well to be angry”; and that I would shew her that no man, of my ability, could depend upon any mere woman for his content. Yet the pain at my heart was miserable.
It is very near incredible to me now how I, who truly knew something of the world, and of men and of affairs, could be so childish and ignorant in a matter of this sort. In truth this was what I was; I knew nothing of true love at all; how therefore should I be a proper lover? I saw my Cousin Tom, who mopped himself a great deal, eyeing me now and again; and he presently came up and asked me where Dolly was.
“In her chamber, I think,” said I, with my nose in the air; and with such a manner that he said no more.
It was enough to break my heart to continue dancing; but it was the task I had set myself upstairs; and till near ten o’clock we continued to dance—but no Dolly to help us. I had even determined how I should bear myself if she came—and how superb should be my dignity; but she did not come to see it. We ended with singing “Here’s a health unto His Majesty”; and I took care that my voice should be loud so that she should hear it. (I had even, poor fool that I was! walked heavily past her chamber-door just now, that she might hear me go.)
When all were gone away at last, I waited for my Cousin Tom, and then went with him into the parlour; where I told him very briefly all that had passed, with the same dignity that I had set myself to preserve. I even spoke in a high sort of voice, to shew my self-command and detachment. My Cousin Tom appeared as if thunderstruck.
“Good God!” said he. “The minx! to behave like that!”
“It is no longer any concern of mine,” I said. “For myself I shall go back to town to-morrow.”
“But—” began he.
“My dear Cousin,” I said, “it is the only thing that I can do—to set to work again. Mistress Dorothy must recover herself alone. I could not expect her to tolerate such a personage as I must appear in her eyes.”
“But you will came back again,” said Tom. “And I’ll talk to the chit as she deserves.”
I preserved my lofty attitude.
“That again,” said I, “is no concern of mine. And as for coming back, when Mistress Dorothy has found her a husband whom she can respect—we may perhaps consider it.”