She understood. And she did not disturb the trance; she did nothing to make him observe that she was there. She walked on with head, shoulders, and back scorching in the fierce sun, and allowed him to continue shading the pavement before them with her umbrella. When they reached the house she gently took the umbrella from him and thanked him; and he mechanically raised his hat.
They had walked more than a mile together; he had not spoken a word, and he did not even know it.
Dinner on Sunday, the most elaborate feast of the week for the Madisons, was always set for one o’clock in the afternoon, and sometimes began before two, but not to-day: the escorts of both daughters remained, and a change of costume by Cora occasioned a long postponement. Justice demands the admission that her reappearance in a glamour of lilac was reward for the delay; nothing more ravishing was ever seen, she was warrantably informed by the quicker of the two guests, in a moment’s whispered tete-a-tete across the banisters as she descended. Another wait followed while she prettily arranged upon the table some dozens of asters from a small garden-bed, tilled, planted, and tended by Laura. Meanwhile, Mrs. Madison constantly turned the other cheek to the cook. Laura assisted in the pacification; Hedrick froze the ice-cream to an impenetrable solidity; and the nominal head of the family sat upon the front porch with the two young men, and wiped his wrists and rambled politically till they were summoned to the dining-room.
Cora did the talking for the table. She was in high spirits; no trace remained of a haggard night: there was a bloom upon her—she was radiant. Her gayety may have had some inspiration in her daring, for round her throat she wore a miraculously slender chain of gold and enamel, with a pendant of minute pale sapphires scrolled about a rather large and very white diamond. Laura started when she saw it, and involuntarily threw a glance almost of terror at Richard Lindley. But that melancholy and absent-minded gentleman observed neither the glance nor the jewel. He saw Cora’s eyes, when they were vouchsafed to his vision, and when they were not he apparently saw nothing at all.
With the general exodus from the table, Cora asked Laura to come to the piano and play, a request which brought a snort from Hedrick, who was taken off his guard. Catching Laura’s eye, he applied a handkerchief with renewed presence of mind, affecting to have sneezed, and stared searchingly over it at Corliss. He perceived that the man remained unmoved, evidently already informed that it was Laura who was the musician. Cora must be going it pretty fast this time: such was the form of her brother’s deduction.