She heard him say: “You don’t seem too glad to see me!” And then: “I hear you had young Lennan out there. What was he doing?”
She felt the turmoil of sudden fear, wondered whether she was showing it, lost it in unnatural alertness—all in the second before she answered: “Oh! just a holiday.”
Some seconds passed, and then he said:
“You didn’t mention him in your letters.”
She answered coolly: “Didn’t I? We saw a good deal of him.”
She knew that he was looking at her—an inquisitive, half-menacing regard. Why—oh, why!—could she not then and there cry out: “And I love him—do you hear?—I love him!” So awful did it seem to be denying her love with these half lies! But it was all so much more grim and hopeless than even she had thought. How inconceivable, now, that she had ever given herself up to this man for life! If only she could get away from him to her room, and scheme and think! For his eyes never left her, travelling over her with their pathetic greed, their menacing inquiry, till he said: “Well, it’s not done you any harm. You look very fit.” But his touch was too much even for her self-command, and she recoiled as if he had struck her.
“What’s the matter? Did I hurt you?”
It seemed to her that he was jeering—then realized as vividly that he was not. And the full danger to her, perhaps to Mark himself, of shrinking from this man, striking her with all its pitiable force, she made a painful effort, slipped her hand under his arm, and said: “I’m very tired. You startled me.”
But he put her hand away, and turning his face, stared out of the window. And so they reached their home.
When he had left her alone, she remained where she was standing, by her wardrobe, without sound or movement, thinking: What am I going to do? How am I going to live?
When Mark Lennan, travelling through from Beaulieu, reached his rooms in Chelsea, he went at once to the little pile of his letters, twice hunted through them, then stood very still, with a stunned, sick feeling. Why had she not sent him that promised note? And now he realized—though not yet to the full—what it meant to be in love with a married woman. He must wait in this suspense for eighteen hours at least, till he could call, and find out what had happened to prevent her, till he could hear from her lips that she still loved him. The chilliest of legal lovers had access to his love, but he must possess a soul that was on fire, in this deadly patience, for fear of doing something that might jeopardize her. Telegraph? He dared not. Write? She would get it by the first post; but what could he say that was not dangerous, if Cramier chanced to see? Call? Still more impossible till three o’clock, at very earliest, to-morrow. His gaze wandered round the studio. Were these