“What unhappiness?” he asked.
“Why, that they’re not getting on together.”
The moment she had said it, a rush of fear that she had betrayed Traill’s confidence, overwhelmed her with a sense of nausea.
“Please don’t say I’ve said that,” she begged.
“Certainly not; but, how on earth can you say
it? Captain and Mrs.
Durlacher may not be lovers in the passionate sense of the word, but
I know of few married people who get on as well as they do.”
She looked at him with increasing amazement.
“Some time ago—yes—perhaps. But not now?”
“Yes, now. I know it for a fact. They hit it off admirably.”
Hit it off—Traill’s very words! Then it was a lie. A lie of Mrs. Durlacher’s that day when they were down at Apsley, a lie to win his sympathy at a moment when she had all but lost it. She had come down there to Apsley with the intention of estranging them. Traill had seen through that. Sally had realized at the time that that was what had stirred him to anger when he had come into the dining-room, finding his sister there with her. Mrs. Durlacher had failed then. She remembered her smothered feelings of delight at the attitude he was taking when she left the room; but it was after that, after she had gone upstairs, that Mrs. Durlacher, with this lie of her unhappiness, had won him to her side.
“Are you absolutely sure of that?” she whispered.
“Why, of course! If anybody’s spreading that report about, it’s a confounded lie.”
Sally looked piteously about her. The iron teeth of the trap she had seen were surely fast in her now. As yet, she was unable to discern the deeper motive in Mrs. Durlacher’s mind in which the proprietorship of Apsley Manor played so vital a part; but she was none the less certain of the designs that were being carried out so effectually to wrest Traill from her side. She was an encumbrance to his career. Had he told her that himself she would, with bowed head, have accepted the inevitable; but, coming to her in this way, this deep-laid plot and all the machinations of a woman whom, from the very first, she had had good reason to despise, a devil of jealousy was wakened in her. Obedience she might have given; her life she would willingly have offered; yet when it was a subtle poison that was being dropped into his mind to eat away his love for her, all force in her nature rose uppermost and she was driven to ends so foreign, so inconsistent with her whole being, that from that moment Devenish scarcely recognized her as the same woman.
“I can’t come to the music hall with you,” she said suddenly.
He looked at her suspiciously.
“Why not?” he asked.
“I couldn’t—I couldn’t sit there—I—”