Mary’s presence here to-day would have meant much to a few people who knew and loved her; it would have meant nothing to the crowd who stared at Delilah Jeliffe.
Colin Quale was there to enjoy the full triumph of the transformation. He hovered at a little distance from Delilah, worshiping her for the genius which met and matched his own.
“I shall paint her in that,” he said to Porter. “It will be my masterpiece. And if you could have seen her on the night I met her——”
“She told me.” Porter was smiling.
“It was like one of the old masters daubed by a novice, or like a room whitewashed over rare carvings—everything was hidden which should have been shown, and everything was shown which should have been hidden. It was monstrous.
“There are few women,” he went on, “whom I could make over as I have made her over. They have not the adaptability—the temperament. There was one whom I could have transformed. But I was not allowed. She was little and blonde and the wife of a clergyman; she looked like a saint—–and she should have worn straight things of clear green or red, or blue. But she wore black. I’ve sometimes wondered if she was such a saint as she looked. There was a divorce afterward, I believe, and another man. And she died.”
Porter, listening idly, came back. “What type was she?”
“Fra Angelico—to perfection. I should have liked to dress her.”
“Did you ever tell her that you wanted to do it?”
“Yes. And she listened. It was then that I gained my impression—that she was not a saint. One night there was a little entertainment at the parish house and I had my way. I made of her an angel, in a red robe with a golden lyre—and I painted her afterward. She used to come to my studio, but I’m not sure that Poole liked it.”
“Poole?” Porter was tense.
“Her husband. He could not make her happy.”
“Was she—the one in fault?”
Colin shrugged. “There are always two stories. As I have said, she looked like a saint.”
“I should like to see—the picture.” Porter tried to speak lightly. “May I come up some day to your rooms?”
Colin’s face beamed.
“I’m getting into new quarters. I shall want your opinion—call me up before you come.”
It was Colin who went home with Delilah in Porter’s car. Porter pleaded important business, and walked for an hour around the Speedway, his brain in a whirl.
Then Mary knew—Mary knew—and it had made no difference in her thought of Roger Poole!
In Which Mary Writes of the Workaday World, and in Which Roger Writes of the Dreams of a Boy.
In the Tower Rooms—June.
I have been working in the office for a week, and it has been the hardest week of my life. But please don’t think that I have any regrets—it is only that the world has been so lovely outside, and that I have been shut in.