“And for you to marry a nobody; the son of nobody knows whom!”
“But everybody knows who his father is—which is rather distinguished nowadays!”
Then Lady Kingsmead, as was natural, quite lost her temper and stormed. Brigit was an idiot, a fool, a beastly little creature to do such a thing. Ponty was a gentleman, at least, whereas——
“Whereas Theo is a delightful, nice, perfectly presentable young man, and the son of the greatest violinist of the century.”
“Ah, bah! of the last ten years, yes.”
“Of the century. As to Ponty—why don’t you marry him yourself? Anyone could marry Ponty!”
Then, suddenly ashamed of herself, the girl had begged her mother’s pardon, but Lady Kingsmead was not of those to whom the crowning charm of graceful forgiveness has been vouchsafed, and the battle went on. To end it, Brigit announced her intention of going to stop with her friend Pam de Lensky, and without more ado, or a word of good-bye, had left the house.
Now, though ashamed, or possibly because she was ashamed, her anger against her mother refused to subside, but grew stronger and bitterer as the train rushed through the dull afternoon Londonwards.
“Why shouldn’t I marry whom I choose? What has she ever done for me that gives her a right to dictate to me? And I could kill Gerald.” A dark flush crept up her cheeks and her mouth twisted furiously. For Carron had dared to waylay her in the passage on her way to her room, and his remarks had not been of a kind calculated to quiet her. Women who have loved are sorry for men who love them, but women who do not know what the word means are either amused or irritated by it. The conversation, carried on in a careful undertone, and lasting only about five minutes, was one that the girl would never, she knew, be able to forget, and one that neither she nor the man could ever make even a pretence of forgiving.
Far too excited and annoyed to read, she watched with unseeing eyes the swift flight of the familiar landscape, and then suddenly, as the train stopped, came to herself with a start. Victoria!
Mechanically, her thick chiffon veil over her face, she looked after her luggage, took a hansom, and drove down Victoria Street, past the Abbey, over Westminster Bridge, and so to Waterloo Station.
London was dull, but its dulness, grey and soft, was being mitigated by a gradual and beautiful blossoming of lights—lights reddish, golden, and clear white. People hurried along the streets, hansoms jingled and passed by, buses and vans blocked the view and then, with elephantine deliberateness, ambled on. Motors of all kinds grunted and jingled, from the opulent, throaty-voiced ones, that chuckle as if they were fed on turtle-soup, to the cheap variety, that sound as they pass like an old-fashioned tinsmith’s waggon.
And the combined effect of all these varied sounds was so different from the sound of Paris, or New York, or Berlin, that an intelligent blind man would have known where he was, if softly and undisturbingly dropped from a balloon to a safe street corner.