“Your cousin is charming, Jesson,” he said. “I’ll never be able to thank you enough for this evening. For the first time I have felt that after all there may be a chance for me.”
“I’m very glad,” Douglas answered—“very glad indeed.”
Drexley looked at him curiously.
“You’re not quite yourself this evening, Jesson,” he remarked.
“I’m all right. Which way are you going—to the club?”
Drexley shook his head.
“Back to my rooms,” he answered. “I shall have a pipe and go to bed. I haven’t slept well lately. To-night I think I shall.”
They were parted by a stream of outcoming people, and Douglas took advantage of the opportunity to slip away. A little way along the street a small brougham, which was very familiar to him, was waiting.
“Twenty, Grosvenor Square,” he said, hailing a hansom.
He was driven through the seething streets, along Piccadilly, all on fire with its streams of people, carriages, and brilliant lights, and, arriving at the corner of the Square, jumped out. He walked slowly up and down the pavement. He could feel his heart thumping with excitement; his cheeks were burning with an unusual colour. He cursed himself for coming, yet the sound of every carriage which turned the corner sent the blood leaping through his veins. He cursed himself for a fool, but waited with the eagerness of a boy, and when her brougham came into sight he was conscious of an acute thrill of excitement which turned him almost dizzy. Supposing—she were not alone? He forgot to draw back into the shadows, as at first had been his intention, but stood in the middle of the pavement, so that the footman, who jumped down to open the carriage door, looked at him curiously. She was within a few feet of him when she stepped out.
“Douglas!” she exclaimed. “Is that you?”
“May I come in, or is it too late?”
She looked into his face, and the ready assent died away upon her lips. He noticed her hesitation, but remained silent.
“Of course,” she said, slowly. “What have you done with your friends?”
“They have gone home,” he answered, shortly. “I came on here. I wanted to see you.”
They passed into the house and to her little sitting-room, where a couch was drawn up before a tiny fire of cedar wood, and her maid was waiting. Emily dismissed her almost at once, and, throwing herself down, lighted a cigarette.
“Sit down, my friend, and smoke,” she said. “I will tell you, if you like, about my travels, and then I must hear about the novel.”
But Douglas came over and stood by her side. His eyes were burning with fire, and his voice was tremulous with emotion as he replied.
“Afterwards. I have something else to say to you first.”