“I hate letting you go alone,” he said, truthfully; “and I certainly cannot let you go like this, without any idea as to your whereabouts.”
“We are staying in Wensum Street,” she said. “I tell you that you may avoid the neighbourhood. If I am to see you again, it certainly must not be there.”
“Why not here?” he urged; “next Thursday night—say at half-past six. I must not lose sight of you again—so soon.”
She raised her eyes quickly. It was pleasant to her to think that he cared.
“I think I could manage that,” she said, softly.
Douglas went off to his club with a keen sense of having acquired a new interest in life. He was in that mood when companionship of some sort is a necessity.
THE REBELLION OF DREXLEY
“You think,” Drexley said, his deep, bass voice trembling with barely-restrained passion, “that we are all your puppets—that you have but to touch the string and we dance to your tune. Leave young Jesson alone, Emily. He has been man enough to strike out a line for himself. Let him keep to it. Give him a chance.”
She shrugged her shoulders and smiled upon him sweetly. She always preferred Drexley in his less abject moods.
“You have seen him lately, my friend?” she inquired. “He is well, I hope?”
“Yes, he is well,” Drexley answered, bitterly. “Living, like a sensible man, honestly by the labour of his brain, the friend and companion of men—not the sycophant of a woman. I envy him.”
She pointed lazily towards the door.
“He was man enough to choose for himself,” she said; “so may you. To tell you the truth, my dear friend, when you weary me like this, I feel inclined to say—go, and when I say go—it is for always.”
Then there came into his face something which she had seen there once before, and which ever since she had recalled with a vague uneasiness—the look murderous. The veins in his forehead became like whipcord—there was a red flash in his eyes. Yet his self-control was marvellous. His voice, when he spoke, seemed scarcely to rise above a whisper.
“For always?” he surmised—“it would be rest at least. You are not an easy task-mistress, Emily.”
Her momentary fear of him evaporated almost as quickly as it had been conceived. She stood with her hand on the bell. “I think,” she said, “that you had better go to your club.”
He held out a protesting hand—tamed at any rate for the moment.
“You were speaking of Jesson,” he said. “Well?”
She moved her finger from the bell, conscious that the crisis was past. She might yet score a victory.
“Yes, I was speaking of Jesson,” she continued, lazily. “As you remark—none too politely, by-the-bye—he has decided to do without my help. I have no objection to that. I admire independence in a man. Yet when he spoke to me from his point of view I am afraid that I was rude. We parted, at any rate, abruptly. I have been thinking it over and I am sorry for it. I should like to let him know that on the whole I approve of his intention.”