There followed a long moment. On the one side was that vinegary woman poking her head forward like an angry hen, on the other, Daphne Wing, her eyes rounder and rounder, her cheeks redder and redder, her lips opening, her hands clasped to her perfect breast, and, in the centre, that broad, grey-bearded figure, with reddening face and angry eyes and hoarsening voice:
“You scoundrel! You infernal scoundrel!” It lurched forward, raising a pudgy fist. Fiorsen sprang down the stairs and wrenched open the door. He walked away in a whirl of mortification. Should he go back and take that pug-faced vulgarian by the throat? As for that minx! But his feelings about her were too complicated for expression. And then—so dark and random are the ways of the mind—his thoughts darted back to Gyp, sitting on the oaken chest, making her confession; and the whips and stings of it scored him worse than ever.
That same evening, standing at the corner of Bury Street, Summerhay watched Gyp going swiftly to her father’s house. He could not bring himself to move while there was still a chance to catch a glimpse of her face, a sign from her hand. Gone! He walked away with his head down. The more blissful the hours just spent, the greater the desolation when they are over. Of such is the nature of love, as he was now discerning. The longing to have her always with him was growing fast. Since her husband knew—why wait? There would be no rest for either of them in an existence of meetings and partings like this, with the menace of that fellow. She must come away with him at once—abroad—until things had declared themselves; and then he must find a place where they could live and she feel safe and happy. He must show he was in dead earnest, set his affairs in order. And he thought: ’No good doing things by halves. Mother must know. The sooner the better. Get it over—at once!’ And, with a grimace of discomfort, he set out for his aunt’s house in Cadogan Gardens, where his mother always stayed when she was in town.
Lady Summerhay was in the boudoir, waiting for dinner and reading a book on dreams. A red-shaded lamp cast a mellow tinge over the grey frock, over one reddish cheek and one white shoulder. She was a striking person, tall and well built, her very blonde hair only just turning grey, for she had married young and been a widow fifteen years—one of those women whose naturally free spirits have been netted by association with people of public position. Bubbles were still rising from her submerged soul, but it was obvious that it would not again set eyes on the horizon. With views neither narrow nor illiberal, as views in society go, she judged everything now as people of public position must—discussion, of course, but no alteration in one’s way of living. Speculation and ideas did not affect social usage. The countless movements in which