“What ocean? what discovery?” asked Hugh, bewildered, and still gazing.
“The troubled ocean of ladies’ looks,” she replied. “You will never be able to live in the same house with one of our kind, if it be necessary to your peace to find out what every expression that puzzles you may mean.”
“I did not intend to be inquisitive—it really troubled me.”
“There it is. You must never mind us. We show so much sooner than men—but, take warning, there is no making out what it is we do show. Your faces are legible; ours are so scratched and interlined, that you had best give up at once the idea of deciphering them.”
Hugh could not help looking once more at the smooth, simple, naive countenance shining upon him.
“There you are at it again,” she said, blushing a little, and turning her head away. “Well, to comfort you, I will confess I was rather cross yesterday — because — because you seemed to have been quite happy with only one of your pupils.”
As she spoke the words, she gave Fatima the rein, and bounded off, overtaking Harry’s pony in a moment. Nor did she leave her cousin during all the rest of their ride.
Most women in whom the soul has anything like a chance of reaching the windows, are more or less beautiful in their best moments. Euphra’s best was when she was trying to fascinate. Then she was — fascinating. During the first morning that Hugh spent at Arnstead, she had probably been making up her mind whether, between her and Hugh, it was to be war to the knife, or fascination. The latter had carried the day, and was now carrying him. But had she calculated that fascination may re-act as well?
Hugh’s heart bounded, like her Arab steed, as she uttered the words last recorded. He gave his chestnut the rein in his turn, to overtake her; but Fatima’s canter quickened into a gallop, and, inspirited by her companionship, and the fact that their heads were turned stablewards, Harry’s pony, one of the quickest of its race, laid itself to the ground, and kept up, taking three strides for Fatty’s two, so that Hugh never got within three lengths of them till they drew rein at the hall door, where the grooms were waiting them. Euphra was off her mare in a moment, and had almost reached her own room before Hugh and Harry had crossed the hall. She came down to luncheon in a white muslin dress, with the smallest possible red spot in it; and, taking her place at the table, seemed to Hugh to have put off not only her riding habit, but the self that was in it as well; for she chatted away in the most unconcerned and easy manner possible, as if she had not been out of her room all the morning. She had ridden so hard, that she had left her last speech in the middle of the common, and its mood with it; and there seemed now no likelihood of either finding its way home.