And throwing her neck back, she closed her eyes again. The sunlight streamed in on her between the half-drawn curtains.
The queerest impulse to put out a hand and stroke that full white throat shot through the maid’s mind.
“These flying machines are stupid,” murmured Barbara; “the pleasure’s in one’s body—–wings!”
“I can see Lady Casterley in the garden.”
Barbara sprang out of bed. Close by the statue of Diana Lady Casterley was standing, gazing down at some flowers, a tiny, grey figure. Barbara sighed. With her, in her dream, had been another buzzard hawk, and she was filled with a sort of surprise, and queer pleasure that ran down her in little shivers while she bathed and dressed.
In her haste she took no hat; and still busy with the fastening of her linen frock, hurried down the stairs and Georgian corridor, towards the garden. At the end of it she almost ran into the arms of Courtier.
Awakening early this morning, he had begun first thinking of Audrey Noel, threatened by scandal; then of his yesterday’s companion, that glorious young creature, whose image had so gripped and taken possession of him. In the pleasure of this memory he had steeped himself. She was youth itself! That perfect thing, a young girl without callowness.
And his words, when she nearly ran into him, were: “The Winged Victory!”
Barbara’s answer was equally symbolic: “A buzzard hawk! Do you know, I dreamed we were flying, Mr. Courtier.”
Courtier gravely answered
“If the gods give me that dream——”
From the garden door Barbara turned her head, smiled, and passed through.
Lady Casterley, in the company of little Ann, who had perceived that it was novel to be in the garden at this hour, had been scrutinizing some newly founded colonies of a flower with which she was not familiar. On seeing her granddaughter approach, she said at once:
“What is this thing?”
“Never heard of it.”
“It’s rather the fashion, Granny.”
“Nemesia?” repeated Lady Casterley. “What has Nemesis to do with flowers? I have no patience with gardeners, and these idiotic names. Where is your hat? I like that duck’s egg colour in your frock. There’s a button undone.” And reaching up her little spidery hand, wonderfully steady considering its age, she buttoned the top button but one of Barbara’s bodice.
“You look very blooming, my dear,” she said. “How far is it to this woman’s cottage? We’ll go there now.”
“She wouldn’t be up.”
Lady Casterley’s eyes gleamed maliciously.
“You tell me she’s so nice,” she said. “No nice unencumbered woman lies in bed after half-past seven. Which is the very shortest way? No, Ann, we can’t take you.”
Little Ann, after regarding her great-grandmother rather too intently, replied: