“No. And don’t ask.”
“You’re like the Irish Grenadier who had a bullet in a humiliating situation. Here’s Rendon, and through it we go with a spanking clatter. Here’s Doctor Corney’s dog-cart post-haste again. For there’s no dying without him now, and Repentance is on the death-bed for not calling him in before. Half a charge of humbug hurts no son of a gun, friend Vernon, if he’d have his firing take effect. Be tender to’t in man or woman, particularly woman. So, by goes the meteoric doctor, and I’ll bring noses to window-panes, you’ll see, which reminds me of the sweetest young lady I ever saw, and the luckiest man. When is she off for her bridal trousseau? And when are they spliced? I’ll not call her perfection, for that’s a post, afraid to move. But she’s a dancing sprig of the tree next it. Poetry’s wanted to speak of her. I’m Irish and inflammable, I suppose, but I never looked on a girl to make a man comprehend the entire holy meaning of the word rapturous, like that one. And away she goes! We’ll not say another word. But you’re a Grecian, friend Vernon. Now, couldn’t you think her just a whiff of an idea of a daughter of a peccadillo-Goddess?”
“Deuce take you, Corney, drop me here; I shall be late for the train,” said Vernon, laying hand on the doctor’s arm to check him on the way to the station in view.
Dr Corney had a Celtic intelligence for a meaning behind an illogical tongue. He drew up, observing. “Two minutes run won’t hurt you.”
He slightly fancied he might have given offence, though he was well acquainted with Vernon and had a cordial grasp at the parting.
The truth must be told that Vernon could not at the moment bear any more talk from an Irishman. Dr. Corney had succeeded in persuading him not to wonder at Clara Middleton’s liking for Colonel de Craye.
AT THE RAILWAY STATION
Clara stood in the waiting-room contemplating the white rails of the rain-swept line. Her lips parted at the sight of Vernon.
“You have your ticket?” said he.
She nodded, and breathed more freely; the matter-of-fact question was reassuring.
“You are wet,” he resumed; and it could not be denied.
“A little. I do not feel it.”
“I must beg you to come to the inn hard by—half a dozen steps. We shall see your train signalled. Come.”
She thought him startlingly authoritative, but he had good sense to back him; and depressed as she was by the dampness, she was disposed to yield to reason if he continued to respect her independence. So she submitted outwardly, resisted inwardly, on the watch to stop him from taking any decisive lead.
“Shall we be sure to see the signal, Mr. Whitford?”
“I’ll provide for that.”
He spoke to the station-clerk, and conducted her across the road.