Lady K. (reproachfully).
That is unfair, dear. You
know I never loved anyone but you!
But you flirted, Tony; yes, you did. You
nearly drove me mad with jealousy. (In petto) Hang it all! how
can I get away and go for a walk? This is unbearable.
And so on, and so on, all the triste canzon. Lady Kingsmead’s boudoir was a charming room done in white and pale corn-colour. There were many books, but Tommy had one day betrayed the limitations of their field of usefulness by asking his mother before several people, “Mother, where do you keep the books you read?”
There were many flowers, beautiful Turkey carpets, shaded lamps, overloaded little tables whose mission in life appeared to be the driving parlour-maids, however reluctant, to the process of dusting, and, in the darkest corner, where its faded gilding was supposed to lighten the gloom, a beautiful old harp. The harp belonged to Mr. Isaacs in Baker Street, but was supposed to have been played by the fair fingers of Lady Kingsmead’s grandmother.
The furniture and hangings, all new, belonged to Messrs. Bampton in Piccadilly, as did the carpets. The pictures, belonging to the entail, were paid for. Lady Kingsmead lay on a chaise-longue and played with a Persian kitten named Omar.
Carron sat opposite her in a low chair smoking cigarettes. It was just four o’clock.
“I suppose she’ll curse me out for being here,” Carron began suddenly, feeling that he deserved, after his hasty excursion into the churchyard of his ancient love, a short indulgence in his present feelings; “she’s a good hater, that girl of yours.”
“Yes, she has a very nasty temper. Now I, with all my faults”—(pause)—“with all my faults, never could stay angry more than five minutes. Besides, I was always so sensitive.”
“Yes; oh, yes! What train does she come by, did you say?”
“The 4.27. Perhaps you’d like to go and meet her?”
He laughed, his blue eyes narrowing. “Thanks, no. And the others?”
“Oh, I don’t know. The list is there at your elbow. You are dull to-day, Gerald.”
“I know I am. I think I’m in for an attack of flue, or something; feel shivery and all-overish. And I think you might be able to understand my hating to have your daughter make such a horrible mesalliance, Tony.”
She was touched with the pathetic facility for being touched common to fading beauties. Rising, she laid her pretty hand on his shoulder. “Poor darling, I am sorry I was cross. It is dear of you to mind. I hated it, too, at first, for poor old Ponty is a gentleman, and he is awfully cut up. But after all, it may not be a bad thing. She’s a very queer girl, Gerald, not at all easy to live with, and this boy Joyselle is really nice. Besides, he has plenty of money——”