Brigit Mead had no particular love for the old town, just as she had no particular love for her little brother’s country-house. She was too bored to care in the least where she was, and only a few people in the world could soothe her vexed and discontented mind to a sense of calm. The woman to visit whom she was on her way was one of these, and as she bought her ticket and made her way to the train a little of her ill-temper died away. “Good old Pam,” she whispered under her veil, “she will be glad I didn’t take Ponty!”
Then there would be the children—six-years-old Pammy, the De Lenskys’ adopted child, and their own little Eliza and Thaddy—the latter a delicious, roundabout person of eighteen months, the very feel of whom was comforting.
“An empty carriage, if there is one, please,” she asked the guard, and he opened a door and helped her into a still unlit compartment. She closed the door and, letting down the glass, leaned her head on her hand and watched, through the veil she always wore when travelling as a protection against impertinent and boring admiration, the little crowd on the platform.
Most of them looked, thank Heaven, second class—she would be alone. And then, just at the last, three men, all apparently very much excited and speaking French very loudly, rushed at her door and tore it open. “Adieu donc, cher maitre”—“Bon voyage”—“Au ’voir, mes enfants—merci infiniment”—“Mille tendresses a Eugenie!”
And the train had started, leaving Brigit alone in the dusk with a very big man in a fur-collared overcoat and a long box, that he deposited with much care on the seat, humming to himself as he did so. Then he sat down and, taking off his broad-brimmed felt hat, wiped his forehead and face with a handkerchief that smelt strongly of violets.
Lady Brigit shrank fastidiously into her corner. Another thing to bore her. She was of those women who always hate their fellow-travellers and resent their existence. And this man was too big, there was too much fur on his coat, too much scent on his handkerchief. “Salut demeure chaste et pure,” he began singing, suddenly, apparently quite unconscious of his companion’s presence. “Salut demeure——” It was a high baritone voice, sweet and round, and his r’s were like Theo Joyselle’s. Brigit smiled. Dear Theo! Her mother could be as nasty as she liked, but they would be happy in spite of her. And then, as in the beginning of the world, it was light, and the girl recognised in her suddenly silent vis-a-vis the man who was to be her father-in-law, Victor Joyselle.