George smiled at her. “I should have fancied you an Egyptian princess, with twin serpents above your forehead instead of that turban.”
“Heavens, no. I want no ardours and no Anthonys. Tell me about the new little girl, Georgie.”
“How do you know there is a—new little girl?”
“I know your tricks and your manners, and the way you managed to meet her at the Horse Show. And you saw her last night.”
“How do you know?”
“By the light in your eyes.”
“Do I show it like that? Well, she’s rather—not to be talked about, Madge——”
She was not in the least affronted. “So that’s it? You always begin that way—putting them on a pedestal—— If you’d only keep one of us there it might do you good.”
“Which one—you?” he leaned a little forward.
“No.” Indignation stirred within her. How easy it was for him to play the game. And last night she had lain long awake, listening for the sound of his motor. She had seen the moon set, and spectral dawn steal into the garden. “No, I’m running away. I am tired of drifting always on the tides of other people’s inclination. We have stayed down here where it is hot because Oscar and Flora like it, yet there’s all the coolness of the North Shore waiting for us——”
She rose and walked to the edge of the terrace. The garden was splashed now with clear color, purple and rose and gold. The air was oppressive, with a gathering haze back of the hills.
“I’m tired of it. Some day I’m going to flap my wings and fly away where you won’t be able to find me, Georgie. I’d rather be a wild gull to the wind-swept sky, than a tame pigeon—to eat from your hand——” She said it lightly; this was not a moment for plaintiveness.
There was a dancing light in his eyes. “You’re a golden pheasant—and you’ll never fly so far that I shan’t find you.”
Oscar arriving at this moment saved a retort. “Flora’s not well. We can’t motor up, Madge.”
“I am sorry but I can take a train.”
“There’s one at three. I don’t see why you are going,” irritably; “Flora won’t stay here long after you leave.”
“I am not as necessary as you think, Oscar. There are plenty of others, and I must go——”
“Oh, very well. Andrews will drive you down.”
“I’ll drive her myself,” said Dalton.
Aunt Claudia was going to Washington also on the three o’clock train. She had had a wireless from Truxton who had sailed from Brest and would arrive at New York within the week.
“Of course you’ll go and meet him, Aunt Claudia,” Becky had said; “I’ll help you to get your things ready.”
Aunt Claudia, quite white and inwardly shaken by the thought of the happiness which was on its way to her, murmured her thanks.
Becky, divining something of the tumult which was beneath that outward show of serenity, patted the cushions of the couch in Mrs. Beaufort’s bedroom. “Lie down here, you darling dear. It was such a surprise, wasn’t it?”