Her face flushed as she recalled the momentary pressure of his hand upon hers on that last night on deck. She rang for the servant, and went up to her room.
It is not the purpose of this narrative to dwell minutely upon the events of the next few months. Truth to say, they were devoid of incidents of sufficient moment in themselves to warrant chronicle. What they led up to was memorable enough.
As time went on John found himself on terms of growing intimacy with the Carling household, and eventually it came about that if there passed a day when their door did not open to him it was dies non.
Mr. Carling was ostensibly more responsible than the ladies for the frequency of our friend’s visits, and grew to look forward to them. In fact, he seemed to regard them as paid primarily to himself, and ignored an occasional suggestion on his wife’s part that it might not be wholly the pleasure of a chat and a game at cards with him that brought the young man so often to the house. And when once she ventured to concern him with some stirrings of her mind on the subject, he rather testily (for him) pooh-poohed her misgivings, remarking that Mary was her own mistress, and, so far as he had ever seen, remarkably well qualified to regulate her own affairs. Had she ever seen anything to lead her to suppose that there was any particular sentiment existing between Lenox and her sister?
“No,” said Mrs. Carling, “perhaps not exactly, but you know how those things go, and he always stays after we come up when she is at home.” To which her husband vouchsafed no reply, but began a protracted wavering as to the advisability of leaving the steam on or turning it off for the night, which was a cold one—a dilemma which, involving his personal welfare or comfort at the moment, permitted no consideration of other matters to share his mind.
* * * * *
Mrs. Carling had not spoken to her sister upon the subject. She thought that that young woman, if she were not, as Mr. Carling said, “remarkably well qualified to regulate her own affairs,” at least held the opinion that she was, very strongly.