“Well, throw them in,” said Mr. Arnold, pretending an indifference he did not feel. “The reality of dinner must not be postponed to the fancy of jewels.”
All this time Hugh had stood poring over the ring at the window, whither he had taken it for better light, as the shadows were falling. Euphra busied herself replacing everything in the box. When all were in, she hastily shut the lid.
“Well, Mr. Sutherland?” said Mr. Arnold.
“I seem on the point of making it out, Mr. Arnold, but I certainly have not succeeded yet.”
“Confess yourself vanquished, then, and come to dinner.”
“I am very unwilling to give in, for I feel convinced that if I had leisure to copy the inscription as far as I can read it, I should, with the help of my dictionary, soon supply the rest. I am very unwilling, as well, to lose a chance of the favour of Lady Emily.”
“Yes, do read it, if you can. I too am dying to hear it,” said Euphra.
“Will you trust me with it, Mr. Arnold? I will take the greatest care of it.”
“Oh, certainly!” replied Mr. Arnold — with a little hesitation in his tone, however, of which Hugh was too eager to take any notice.
He carried it to his room immediately, and laid it beside his manuscript verses, in the hiding-place of the old escritoire. He was in the drawing-room a moment after.
There he found Euphra and the Bohemian alone. — Von Funkelstein had, in an incredibly short space of time, established himself as Hausfreund, and came and went as he pleased. — They looked as if they had been interrupted in a hurried and earnest conversation — their faces were so impassive. Yet Euphra’s wore a considerably heightened colour — a more articulate indication. She could school her features, but not her complexion.
He...stakes this ring;
And would so, had it been a carbuncle
Of Phoebus’ wheel; and might so safely, had it
Been all the worth of his car.
Hugh, of course, had an immediate attack of jealousy. Wishing to show it in one quarter, and hide it in every other, he carefully abstained from looking once in the direction of Euphra; while, throughout the dinner, he spoke to every one else as often as there was the smallest pretext for doing so. To enable himself to keep this up, he drank wine freely. As he was in general very moderate, by the time the ladies rose, it had begun to affect his brain. It was not half so potent, however, in its influences, as the parting glance which Euphra succeeded at last, as she left the room, in sending through his eyes to his heart.
Hugh sat down to the table again, with a quieter tongue, but a busier brain. He drank still, without thinking of the consequences. A strong will kept him from showing any signs of intoxication, but he was certainly nearer to that state than he had ever been in his life before.