“You?” Lady Caroom exclaimed, breathlessly.
“You sent me that thousand pounds?” Brooks cried.
They exchanged rapid glances: A spot of colour burned in Lady Caroom’s cheeks. She felt her heart quicken, an unspoken prayer upon her lips.
Brooks, too, was agitated.
“Upon my word,” Lord Arranmore remarked, coldly, “I really don’t know why my whim should so much astound you. I took care to explain that I sent it without the slightest sympathy in the cause—merely out of compliment to an acquaintance. It was just a whim, nothing more, I can assure you. I think that I won it at Sandown or something.”
“It was not because you were interested in this work, then?” Lady Caroom asked, fearfully.
“Not in the slightest,” he answered. “That is to say, sympathetically interested. I am curious. I will admit that. No more.”
The colour faded from Lady Caroom’s cheeks. She shivered a little and rose to her feet. Brooks’ face had hardened.
“We are very much obliged to you for the money,” he said. “As for Lavilette, I had not thought it worth while to reply to him.”
Lord Arranmore shrugged his shoulders.
“Nor should I in your place,” he answered. “My position is a little different, of course. I am positively looking forward to my next week’s Verity. You are leaving now, I see. Good-night!”
“I have kept Mr. Brooks away from his friends,” she said, looking at him. “Will you see me to my carriage?”
He offered her his arm with courtly grace. They passed down the crowded staircase together.
“You are looking ill, Philip,” she said, softly. “You are not taking care of yourself.”
“Care of myself,” he laughed. “Why, for whom? Life is not exactly a playground, is it?”
“You are not making the best of it!”
“The best! Do you want to mock me?”
“It is you,” she whispered, “who stand before a looking-glass, and mock yourself. Philip, be a man. Your life is one long repression. Break through just once! Won’t you?”
He sighed. “Would you have me a hypocrite, Catherine?”
She shook her head. Suddenly she looked up at him.
“Philip, will you promise me this? If ever your impulse should come—if you should feel the desire to speak, to act once more as a man from your heart—you will not stifle it. Promise me that.” He looked at her with a faint, tired smile. “Yes, I promise,” he answered.
LADY SYBIL LENDS A HAND
Brooks glanced at the card which was brought in to him, at first carelessly enough, afterwards with mingled surprise and pleasure.
“Here is some one,” he said to Mary Scott, “whom I should like you to meet. Show the young lady in,” he directed.
Some instinct seemed to tell her the truth.