“Then you can remember only that I am a woman,” she whispered, “very, very, very much a woman, and—I’m afraid—a woman shockingly in love!”
She disengaged herself suddenly, and was at the door before he could reach it. She looked back. Her cheeks were flushed. There was even a faint tinge of pink underneath the creamy white of her slender, stately neck.
“Don’t dare,” she said, “to be more than five minutes!”
Mannering poured himself out a glass of wine, and sat quite still with his head between his hands. He wanted to realize this thing if he could. The grinding of the great wheels fell no more upon his ears. He looked into a new world, so different from the old that he was almost afraid.
And in her room, Berenice waited for him impatiently.
A BLOW FOR BORROWDEAN
There was a somewhat unusual alertness in Borrowdean’s manner as he passed out from the little house in Sloane Gardens and summoned a passing hansom. He drove to the corner of Hyde Park, and dismissing the cab strolled along the broad walk.
The many acquaintances whom he passed and repassed he greeted with a certain amount of abstraction. All the time he kept his eyes upon the road. He was waiting to catch sight of some familiar liveries. When at last they came he contrived to stop the carriage and hastily threaded his way to the side of the barouche.
Berenice was looking radiantly beautiful. The exquisite simplicity of her white muslin gown and large hat of black feathers, the slight flush with which she received him, as though she carried about with her a secret which she expected every one to read, the extinction of that air of listlessness which had robbed her for some time of a certain share of her good looks—of all these things Borrowdean made quick note. His face grew graver as he accepted her not very enthusiastic invitation and occupied the back seat of the carriage. For the first time he admitted to himself the possibility of failure in his carefully laid plans. He recognized the fact, that there were forces at work against which he had no weapon ready. He had believed that Berenice was attracted by Mannering’s personality and genius. He had never seriously considered the question of her feelings becoming more deeply involved. So many men had paid vain court to her. She had a wonderful reputation for inaccessibility. And yet he remembered her manner when he had paid his first unexpected visit to Blakely. It should have been a lesson to him. How far had the mischief gone, he wondered!
“So Mannering has gone North,” he remarked, noticing that she avoided the subject.
She nodded. Her parasol drooped a little his way, and he wondered whether it was because she desired her face hidden.
“You saw him?”
“Yes,” she answered. “He explained how he felt to me.”