“Do you wish to speak to me, my dear?”
Blanca shook her head.
“Follow!” said Mr. Stone.
But the little model’s glance had stolen round to meet the scrutiny fixed on her.
A look passed across her face which seemed to say: ’What have I done to you, that you should stare at me like this?’
Furtive and fascinated, her eyes remained fixed on Bianca, while her hand moved, mechanically ticking the paragraphs. That silent duel of eyes went on—the woman’s fixed, cruel, smiling; the girl’s uncertain, resentful. Neither of them heard a word that Mr. Stone was reading. They treated it as, from the beginning, Life has treated Philosophy—and to the end will treat it.
Mr. Stone paused again, seeming to weigh his last sentences.
“That, I think,” he murmured to himself, “is true.” And suddenly he addressed his daughter. “Do you agree with me, my dear?”
He was evidently waiting with anxiety for her answer, and the little silver hairs that straggled on his lean throat beneath his beard were clearly visible.
“Yes, Father, I agree.”
“Ah!” said Mr. Stone, “I am glad that you confirm me. I was anxious. Follow!”
Bianca rose. Burning spots of colour had settled in her cheeks. She went towards the door, and the little model pursued her figure with a long look, cringing, mutinous, and wistful.
THE HUSBAND AND THE WIFE
It was past six o’clock when Hilary at length reached home, preceded a little by Miranda, who almost felt within her the desire to eat. The lilac bushes, not yet in flower, were giving forth spicy fragrance. The sun still netted their top boughs, as with golden silk, and a blackbird, seated on a low branch of the acacia-tree, was summoning the evening. Mr. Stone, accompanied by the little model, dressed in her new clothes, was coming down the path. They were evidently going for a walk, for Mr. Stone wore his hat, old and soft and black, with a strong green tinge, and carried a paper parcel, which leaked crumbs of bread at every step.
The girl grew very red. She held her head down, as though afraid of Hilary’s inspection of her new clothes. At the gate she suddenly looked up. His face said: ‘Yes, you look very nice!’ And into her eyes a look leaped such as one may see in dogs’ eyes lifted in adoration to their masters’ faces. Manifestly disconcerted, Hilary turned to Mr. Stone. The old man was standing very still; a thought had evidently struck him. “I have not, I think,” he said, “given enough consideration to the question whether force is absolutely, or only relatively, evil. If I saw a man ill-treat a cat, should I be justified in striking him?”
Accustomed to such divagations, Hilary answered: “I don’t know whether you would be justifed, but I believe that you would strike him.”