Verrian could not help laughing. “Well, passionate, then. I don’t know why it should be so confoundedly vexatious. But somehow I would have chosen Miss Macroyd—Is she specially dear to you?”
“Not the least!”
“I would have chosen her as the last person to have the business, which is so inexpressibly none of my business—”
“Or mine, as I think you remarked,” Bushwick interposed.
“Come out through,” Verrian concluded, accepting his interposition with a bow.
“I see what you mean,” Bushwick said, after a moment’s thought. “But, really, I don’t think it’s likely to go further. If you want to know, I believe Miss Macroyd feels the distinction of being in the secret so much that she’ll prefer to hint round till Mrs. Westangle gives the thing away. She had to tell me, because I was there with her when she saw you with the young lady, to keep me from going with my curiosity to you. Come, I do think she’s honest about it.”
“Don’t you think they’re rather more dangerous when they’re honest?”
“Well, only when they’re obliged to be. Cheer up! I don’t believe Miss Macroyd is one to spoil sport.”
“Oh, I think I shall live through it,” Verrian said, rather stiffening again. But he relaxed, in rising from his chair, and said, “Well, good-night, old fellow. I believe I shall go to bed now.”
“You won’t wait for me till my pipe’s out?”
“No, I think not. I seem to be just making it, and if I waited I might lose my grip.” He offered Bushwick a friendly hand.
“Do you suppose it’s been my soothing conversation? I’m like the actor that the doctor advised to go and see himself act. I can’t talk myself sleepy.”
“You might try it,” Verrian said, going out.
The men who had talked of going away on Thursday seemed to have found it practicable to stay. At any rate, they were all there on the Saturday night for the ghost-seeing, and, of course, none of the women had gone. What was more remarkable, in a house rather full of girls, nobody was sick; or, at least, everybody was well enough to be at dinner, and, after dinner, at the dance, which impatiently, if a little ironically, preceded the supernatural part of the evening’s amusement. It was the decorum of a woman who might have been expected not to have it that Mrs. Westangle had arranged that the evening’s amusement should not pass the bound between Saturday night and Sunday morning. The supper was to be later, but that was like other eating and drinking on the Sabbath; and it was to be a cold supper.
At half-past ten the dancing stopped in the foyer and the drawing-room, and by eleven the guests were all seated fronting the closed doors of the library. There were not so many of them but that in the handsome space there was interval enough to lend a desired distance to the apparitions; and when the doors were slid aside it was applausively found that there was a veil of gauze falling from the roof to the floor, which promised its aid in heightening the coming mystery. This was again heightened by the universal ignorance as to how the apparitions were to make their advents and on what terms.