“Well,” he said, “I’m very glad to have the privilege of your acquaintance; and, if I may say so, you ’ave—you ’ave my ’earty sympathy. Good-day.”
The door once shut behind her, Gyp took a long breath and walked swiftly away. Her cheeks were burning; and, with a craving for protection, she put up her sunshade. But the girl’s white face came up again before her, and the sound of her words:
“Oh, Mrs. Fiorsen, I wish I was dead! I do!”
Gyp walked on beneath her sunshade, making unconsciously for the peace of trees. Her mind was a whirl of impressions—Daphne Wing’s figure against the door, Mr. Wagge’s puggy grey-bearded countenance, the red pampas-grass, the blue bowl, Rosek’s face swooping at her, her last glimpse of her baby asleep under the trees!
She reached Kensington Gardens, turned into that walk renowned for the beauty of its flowers and the plainness of the people who frequent it, and sat down on a bench. It was near the luncheon-hour; nursemaids, dogs, perambulators, old gentlemen—all were hurrying a little toward their food. They glanced with critical surprise at this pretty young woman, leisured and lonely at such an hour, trying to find out what was wrong with her, as one naturally does with beauty—bow legs or something, for sure, to balance a face like that! But Gyp noticed none of them, except now and again a dog which sniffed her knees in passing. For months she had resolutely cultivated insensibility, resolutely refused to face reality; the barrier was forced now, and the flood had swept her away. “Proceedings!” Mr. Wagge had said. To those who shrink from letting their secret affairs be known even by their nearest friends, the notion of a public exhibition of troubles simply never comes, and it had certainly never come to Gyp. With a bitter smile she thought: ’I’m better off than she is, after all! Suppose I loved him, too? No, I never—never—want to love. Women who love suffer too much.’
She sat on that bench a long time before it came into her mind that she was due at Monsieur Harmost’s for a music lesson at three o’clock. It was well past two already; and she set out across the grass. The summer day was full of murmurings of bees and flies, cooings of blissful pigeons, the soft swish and stir of leaves, and the scent of lime blossom under a sky so blue, with few white clouds slow, and calm, and full. Why be unhappy? And one of those spotty spaniel dogs, that have broad heads, with frizzy topknots, and are always rascals, smelt at her frock and moved round and round her, hoping that she would throw her sunshade on the water for him to fetch, this being in his view the only reason why anything was carried in the hand.
She found Monsieur Harmost fidgeting up and down the room, whose opened windows could not rid it of the smell of latakia.