“I don’t smoke or drink, you know,” he said irrelevantly, “because I think they’re drugs. And yet I fancy all hobbies, like my camera and bicycle, are drugs too. Getting under a black hood, getting into a dark room—getting into a hole anyhow. Drugging myself with speed, and sunshine, and fatigue, and fresh air. Pedalling the machine so fast that I turn into a machine myself. That’s the matter with all of us. We’re too busy to wake up.”
“Well,” said the girl solidly, “what is there to wake up to?”
“There must be!” cried Inglewood, turning round in a singular excitement—“there must be something to wake up to! All we do is preparations—your cleanliness, and my healthiness, and Warner’s scientific appliances. We’re always preparing for something—something that never comes off. I ventilate the house, and you sweep the house; but what is going to happen in the house?”
She was looking at him quietly, but with very bright eyes, and seemed to be searching for some form of words which she could not find.
Before she could speak the door burst open, and the boisterous Rosamund Hunt, in her flamboyant white hat, boa, and parasol, stood framed in the doorway. She was in a breathing heat, and on her open face was an expression of the most infantile astonishment.
“Well, here’s a fine game!” she said, panting. “What am I to do now, I wonder? I’ve wired for Dr. Warner; that’s all I can think of doing.”
“What is the matter?” asked Diana, rather sharply, but moving forward like one used to be called upon for assistance.
“It’s Mary,” said the heiress, “my companion Mary Gray: that cracked friend of yours called Smith has proposed to her in the garden, after ten hours’ acquaintance, and he wants to go off with her now for a special licence.”
Arthur Inglewood walked to the open French windows and looked out on the garden, still golden with evening light. Nothing moved there but a bird or two hopping and twittering; but beyond the hedge and railings, in the road outside the garden gate, a hansom cab was waiting, with the yellow Gladstone bag on top of it.
The Garden of the God
Diana Duke seemed inexplicably irritated at the abrupt entrance and utterance of the other girl.
“Well,” she said shortly, “I suppose Miss Gray can decline him if she doesn’t want to marry him.”
“But she does want to marry him!” cried Rosamund in exasperation. “She’s a wild, wicked fool, and I won’t be parted from her.”
“Perhaps,” said Diana icily, “but I really don’t see what we can do.”
“But the man’s balmy, Diana,” reasoned
her friend angrily.
“I can’t let my nice governess marry a man that’s balmy!
You or somebody must stop it!—Mr. Inglewood, you’re a man;
go and tell them they simply can’t.”