For the moment she had no power at all. She was pierced by a sharper sense of her situation than had ever come to her before, and that had been enough. She was one too many in the world. She must give place, and she must not be long about it. A ringing was in her ears; a darkness was around her. But she called back her forces with an effort; she must not think until she should be alone. She turned back to Sir Temple, caught his last words, and answered him in haste, beginning at random and going on with a fluency which even he had not expected.
Colonel Pepperell, who was able to do more things at once than carry on his dinner and a conversation with his neighbor, looked down hard at his plate a moment and muttered under his breath, “Poor thing! Poor thing!”
When the ladies had left the table and gone into the garden Elizabeth moved restlessly from one to another. Before very long the gentlemen joined them, when Edmonson, after a little engineering, a few moments of detention here and there, came up to her as she was sauntering with several others on the bank of the little river. He contrived to separate her from the rest and walked with her a few steps behind them. His vivacity had not deserted him, and she felt that it would be no effort to talk to him, and that in listening she should be enough interested not to forget herself.
“How beautiful it is here,” she began.
“Yes, but I don’t care much for landscape when I can get anything better, and a woman who knows life and understands how to make herself entertaining is a great deal better. Therefore, at present I have no eyes for scenery.”