house in Park Lane, when he was quite a young man;
or from his own house in Montpellier Square in those
four years of married life! And, to-night, making
up his mind to free himself if he could of that long
useless marriage tie, he took a fancy to walk on, in
at Hyde Park Corner, out at Knightsbridge Gate, just
as he used to when going home to Irene in the old
days. What could she be like now?—how
had she passed the years since he last saw her, twelve
years in all, seven already since Uncle Jolyon left
her that money? Was she still beautiful?
Would he know her if he saw her? ‘I’ve
not changed much,’ he thought; ’I expect
she has. She made me suffer.’ He
remembered suddenly one night, the first on which
he went out to dinner alone—an old Malburian
dinner—the first year of their marriage.
With what eagerness he had hurried back; and, entering
softly as a cat, had heard her playing. Opening
the drawing-room door noiselessly, he had stood watching
the expression on her face, different from any he
knew, so much more open, so confiding, as though to
her music she was giving a heart he had never seen.
And he remembered how she stopped and looked round,
how her face changed back to that which he did know,
and what an icy shiver had gone through him, for all
that the next moment he was fondling her shoulders.
Yes, she had made him suffer! Divorce!
It seemed ridiculous, after all these years of utter
separation! But it would have to be. No
other way! ’The question,’ he thought
with sudden realism, ’is—which of
us? She or me? She deserted me. She
ought to pay for it. There’ll be someone,
I suppose.’ Involuntarily he uttered a
little snarling sound, and, turning, made his way
back to Park Lane.
JAMES SEES VISIONS
The butler himself opened the door, and closing it
softly, detained Soames on the inner mat.
“The master’s poorly, sir,” he murmured.
“He wouldn’t go to bed till you came
in. He’s still in the diningroom.”
Soames responded in the hushed tone to which the house
was now accustomed.
“What’s the matter with him, Warmson?”
“Nervous, sir, I think. Might be the funeral;
might be Mrs. Dartie’s comin’ round this
afternoon. I think he overheard something.
I’ve took him in a negus. The mistress
has just gone up.”
Soames hung his hat on a mahogany stag’s-horn.
“All right, Warmson, you can go to bed; I’ll
take him up myself.” And he passed into
James was sitting before the fire, in a big armchair,
with a camel-hair shawl, very light and warm, over
his frock-coated shoulders, on to which his long white
whiskers drooped. His white hair, still fairly
thick, glistened in the lamplight; a little moisture
from his fixed, light-grey eyes stained the cheeks,
still quite well coloured, and the long deep furrows
running to the corners of the clean-shaven lips, which