Now she realised that she was tired, wretched, feverish. She suffered Kathleen to undress her, comb her hair, bathe her, and dry the white, slender body and limbs in which the veins still burned and throbbed.
When at length she lay between the cool sheets, silent, limp, heavy-lidded, Kathleen turned out the electric brackets and lighted the candle.
“Dear,” she said, trying to speak cheerfully, “do you know what your brother has done?”
“What?” asked Geraldine drowsily.
“He has bought Roya-Neh, if you please, and he invites you to draw a check for half of it and to move there next week. As for me, I was furious with him. What do you think?”
Her voice softened to a whisper; she bent over the girl, looking closely at the closed lids. Under them a faint bluish tint faded into the whiteness of the cheek.
“Darling, darling!” whispered Kathleen, bending closer over the sleeping girl, “I love you so—I love you so!” And even as she said it, between the sleeper’s features and her own floated the vision of Scott’s youthfully earnest face; and she straightened suddenly to her full height and laid her hand on her breast in consternation. Under the fingers’ soft pressure her heart beat faster. Again, with new dismay, this incredible sensation was stealing upon her, threatening to transform itself into something real, something definite, something not to be stifled or ignored.
She extinguished the candle; as she felt her way out of the darkness, arms extended, far away in the house she heard a door open and shut, and she bent over the balustrade to listen.
“Is that you, Scott?” she called softly.
“Yes; Duane and I did some billiards at the club.” He looked up at her, the same slight pucker between his brows, boyishly slender in his evening dress. “You’re not going to bed at once, are you, Kathleen, dear?”
“Yes, I am,” she said briefly, backing into her own room, but holding the door ajar so that she could look out at him.
“Oh, come out and talk to a fellow,” he urged; “I’m quite excited about this Roya-Neh business——”
“You’re a perfect wretch, Scott. I don’t want to talk about your unholy extravagance.”
The boy laughed and stood at ease looking at the pretty face partly disclosed between door and wall with darkness for a velvety background.
“Just come out into the library while I smoke one cigarette,” he began in his wheedling way. “I’m dying to talk to you about the game-preserve——”
“I can’t; I’m not attired for a tete-a-tete with anything except my pillow.”
“Then put on one of those fetching affairs you wear sometimes——”
“Oh, Scott, you are a nuisance!”
When, a few moments later, she came into the library in a delicate shimmering thing and little slippers of the same elusive tint, Scott jumped up and dragged a big chair forward.