Under that speech, so strangely compounded of irony and fervour, Barbara sat very still, with glowing cheeks.
“Yes,” said Courtier, “only an immortal must embrace a goddess. Outside the purlieus of Authority I shall sit cross-legged, and prostrate myself three times a day.”
But Barbara answered nothing.
“In the early morning,” went on Courtier, “leaving the dark and dismal homes of Freedom I shall look towards the Temples of the Great; there with the eye of faith I shall see you.”
He stopped, for Barbara’s lips were moving.
“Don’t hurt me, please.”
Courtier leaned over, took her hand, and put it to his lips. “We will now ride on....”
That night at dinner Lord Dennis, seated opposite his great-niece, was struck by her appearance.
“A very beautiful child,” he thought, “a most lovely young creature!”
She was placed between Courtier and Harbinger. And the old man’s still keen eyes carefully watched those two. Though attentive to their neighbours on the other side, they were both of them keeping the corner of an eye on Barbara and on each other. The thing was transparent to Lord Dennis, and a smile settled in that nest of gravity between his white peaked beard and moustaches. But he waited, the instinct of a fisherman bidding him to neglect no piece of water, till he saw the child silent and in repose, and watched carefully to see what would rise. Although she was so calmly, so healthily eating, her eyes stole round at Courtier. This quick look seemed to Lord Dennis perturbed, as if something were exciting her. Then Harbinger spoke, and she turned to answer him. Her face was calm now, faintly smiling, a little eager, provocative in its joy of life. It made Lord Dennis think of his own youth. What a splendid couple! If Babs married young Harbinger there would not be a finer pair in all England. His eyes travelled back to Courtier. Manly enough! They called him dangerous! There was a look of effervescence, carefully corked down—might perhaps be attractive to a girl! To his essentially practical and sober mind, a type like Courtier was puzzling. He liked the look of him, but distrusted his ironic expression, and that appearance of blood to the head. Fellow—no doubt—that would ride off on his ideas, humanitarian! To Lord Dennis there was something queer about humanitarians. They offended perhaps his dry and precise sense of form. They were always looking out for cruelty or injustice; seemed delighted when they found it—swelled up, as it were, when they scented it, and as there was a good deal about, were never quite of normal size. Men who lived for ideas were, in fact, to one for whom facts sufficed always a little worrying! A movement from Barbara brought him back to actuality. Was the possessor of that crown of hair and those divine young shoulders the little Babs who had ridden with him in the Row? Time was certainly the