“And what is the true God, pray?”
“The one whose angel and minister you have always been, Amber”—he lowered his voice reverently—“Love.”
“Love!” Her voice was bitter. “Any bench in the Park, any alley in Highmead, swarms with Love.” ’Twas as if Caesar had skipped from his imperial chariot to a sociable.
All her childish passion for directing the life of the household, all her girlish relish in keeping lovers in leading strings, all that unconscious love of Power which—inversely—had attracted her to Walter Bassett, and which had found so delightful a scope in her political activities, leapt—now that her Salon was threatened with extinction—into agonised consciousness of itself.
Through this brilliant husband of hers, she had touched the destinies of England, pulled the strings of Empire. Oh, the intoxication of the fight—the fight for which she had seconded and sponged him! Oh, the rapture of intriguing against his enemies—himself included—the feminine triumph of managing Goodman Waverer or Badman Badgerer!
And now—oh, she could no longer control her sobs!
He tried to soothe her, to caress her, but she repulsed him.
“Go to your yacht—to your miserable shimmering waters. I shall spend my honeymoon here alone.... You discovered I was Irish.”
* * * * *
She came “to meet John Lefolle,” but John Lefolle did not know he was to meet Winifred Glamorys. He did not even know he was himself the meeting-point of all the brilliant and beautiful persons, assembled in the publisher’s Saturday Salon, for although a youthful minor poet, he was modest and lovable. Perhaps his Oxford tutorship was sobering. At any rate his head remained unturned by his precocious fame, and to meet these other young men and women—his reverend seniors on the slopes of Parnassus—gave him more pleasure than the receipt of “royalties.” Not that his publisher afforded him much opportunity of contrasting the two pleasures. The profits of the Muse went to provide this room of old furniture and roses, this beautiful garden a-twinkle with Japanese lanterns, like gorgeous fire-flowers blossoming under the white crescent-moon of early June.
Winifred Glamorys was not literary herself. She was better than a poetess, she was a poem. The publisher always threw in a few realities, and some beautiful brainless creature would generally be found the nucleus of a crowd, while Clio in spectacles languished in a corner. Winifred Glamorys, however, was reputed to have a tongue that matched her eye; paralleling with whimsies and epigrams its freakish fires and witcheries, and, assuredly, flitting in her white gown through the dark balmy garden, she seemed the very spirit of moonlight, the subtle incarnation of night and roses.