None of the value of this did Sally lose—none of the intent that lay behind it. She perfectly realized that it was meant to convey a candid warning to her; that if she had pretensions, she might as well light their funeral pyre immediately, burn all her hopes and ambitions, a sacrifice before the altar of renunciation. But ambitions, she had none. With her nature, she would willingly have consented to their burning at such a command as this. What hopes she possessed, certainly, were shattered; but the flame of her passion, that was only kindled the more. Now that she realized how utterly he was beyond her reach, how immeasurably he was above her, she made silent concessions to the crying demands of her heart which she would not have dreamed of admitting to herself before.
Irretrievably he was gone now. All Janet had said, strong in truth as it may have seemed at the time, had only been based upon her extraordinary view of life in general. Some cases, perhaps, it might have applied to; it did not apply to this. Janet was utterly wrong; she was not winning him. In this chance meeting with his sister, brief though it may have been, she knew that she had lost him; arriving at which conclusion, she probably reached the most dangerous phase in the whole existence of a woman’s temptations.
When Traill returned, he found them both in preparation for departure. Sally had replaced the little feather boa about her neck and one of her gloves, which she had taken off when he gave her the coffee, she was buttoning at the wrist.
“You’re not going, are you?” he exclaimed.
“Yes; I must.”
“But you haven’t told me what you wanted to see me about yet.”
“No, I know I haven’t; but that must wait. I can easily write to you.”
Mrs. Durlacher picked up her skirts, the silk rustling like leaves in an autumn wind. As she lowered her head in the movement, the dilation of her nostrils repressed a smile of satisfaction. “You mustn’t let my going force you away,” she said graciously.
“Oh, but I must go,” said Sally.
Traill shrugged his shoulders. Let her have her way. When women are doing things for apparently no reason, they are the most obstinate. But at the door of the room as his sister passed out first, he caught Sally’s elbow in a tense grip and for the instant held her back.
“I shall wait here for you for half an hour,” he whispered.
“Is there anywhere that I can take you, Miss Bishop?” Mrs. Durlacher offered, as they stood by the side of the shivering taxi. “I’m going out to Sloane Street.”
“Oh no, thank you; it’s very good of you. I’m going to catch a train at Waterloo.” She shook hands, then held out her hand quietly to Traill.
“Good-bye, Mr. Traill.”
He took her hand and held it with meaning. “Good-bye.”