‘Already?’ he thought. ’The brute’s been crowing. And it’s that little bounder that my horse—my horse’
He answered calmly:
“Wanted the money.”
Winlow, who was not lacking in cool discretion, changed the subject.
Late that evening George sat in the Stoics’ window overlooking Piccadilly. Before his eyes, shaded by his hand, the hansoms passed, flying East and West, each with the single pale disc of face, or the twin discs of faces close together; and the gentle roar of the town came in, and the cool air refreshed by night. In the light of the lamps the trees of the Green Park stood burnished out of deep shadow where nothing moved; and high over all, the stars and purple sky seemed veiled with golden gauze. Figures without end filed by. Some glanced at the lighted windows and the man in the white shirt-front sitting there. And many thought: ’Wish I were that swell, with nothing to do but step into his father’s shoes;’ and to many no thought came. But now and then some passer murmured to himself: “Looks lonely sitting there.”
And to those faces gazing up, George’s lips were grim, and over them came and went a little bitter smile; but on his forehead he felt still the touch of his horse’s muzzle, and his eyes, which none could see, were dark with pain.
MR. BARTER TAKES A WALK
The event at the Rectory was expected every moment. The Rector, who practically never suffered, disliked the thought and sight of others’ suffering. Up to this day, indeed, there had been none to dislike, for in answer to inquiries his wife had always said “No, dear, no; I’m all right—really, it’s nothing.” And she had always said it smiling, even when her smiling lips were white. But this morning in trying to say it she had failed to smile. Her eyes had lost their hopelessly hopeful shining, and sharply between her teeth she said: “Send for Dr. Wilson, Hussell”
The Rector kissed her, shutting his eyes, for he was afraid of her face with its lips drawn back, and its discoloured cheeks. In five minutes the groom was hastening to Cornmarket on the roan cob, and the Rector stood in his study, looking from one to another of his household gods, as though calling them to his assistance. At last he took down a bat and began oiling it. Sixteen years ago, when Husell was born, he had been overtaken by sounds that he had never to this day forgotten; they had clung to the nerves of his memory, and for no reward would he hear them again. They had never been uttered since, for like most wives, his wife was a heroine; but, used as he was to this event, the Rector had ever since suffered from panic. It was as though Providence, storing all the anxiety which he might have felt throughout, let him have it with a rush at the last moment. He put the bat back into its case, corked the oil-bottle, and again stood looking at his household gods. None came to his aid. And his thoughts were as they had nine times been before. ’I ought not to go out. I ought to wait for Wilson. Suppose anything were to happen. Still, nurse is with her, and I can do nothing. Poor Rose—poor darling! It’s my duty to——What’s that? I’m better out of the way.’