“Imagined it? No! Why? What should she have imagined it for? We Traills haven’t got an ounce of imagination between us. How could she imagine it? What good would it do her? A woman doesn’t hesitate and stumble and drag a thing out of her with tears in her eyes, hating to talk about it, when the whole business is only a tissue of her imagination. Besides, what would she gain by it?”
“Your sympathy,” Sally replied.
Traill walked into his bedroom with a laugh.
“A deuced lot she really cares about my sympathy,” he exclaimed. “I assure you Dolly’s not a sentimentalist. She only wants to cling to her rung of the ladder, that’s all.”
That was all, and Sally knew it; but she could say no more. She had tried to plant the seed of suspicion in his mind. She had failed. The ambitions which were a motive to all his sister’s actions, he could see well enough; but to the means she used in gratifying them, he was blind. And Sally, though she knew nothing, dared not attempt the opening of his eyes.
“Are you going to change now?” she asked.
He mumbled an affirmative. She realized, sensitively, that his mind was pre-occupied with other things and, quietly, she crept out of the room, upstairs to the other floor where she stood, looking out of the window, finding her eyes watching the women who were wheeling round the corner of the Circus into Piccadilly, with skirts tight gripped about them, little reticule bags swinging with their ungainly walk, heads alert to follow any direction that their eyes might prompt them.
When Traill looked into his sitting-room a few moments later, looked through the opening front of a white shirt which he was in the process of dragging over his head, she had gone.
“What are you going to do with yourself this evening, Sally?” he asked, before his head was free of the folds of the stiff, starched linen. No answer was given him. Then, when he found he was alone, he cursed volubly at the intractable shirt. The words steadied on his lips as a knock fell on the door. He marched across the room as he was, holding up his garments with one hand and flung it open—one of his characteristic actions—he cared little how he appeared or whom his appearance affected.
“You? Come in!” he said.
A tall, well-featured man, well-dressed, well-groomed, walked in through the open door. With a certain amount of care—customary enough in him to hide the obvious—he laid his silk hat, brim upwards, upon the table, pulled off his gloves, threw them carelessly into it, and turned round.
“You’re going out?” he said.
“Can’t come and have dinner with me?”
“Taking the little lady out, I suppose?”
“No, she’s upstairs.”
The man’s eyes passed across Traill’s face as they wandered to the portrait of James Brownrigg over the mantelpiece.