“Willis,” she said sweetly—and even smiled as she spoke—“will you please have a cab fetched for Captain Carey? He is rather late for a dinner engagement.” The butler acknowledged the order and withdrew. In the light of the pink lamps the late combatants looked strangely at one another.
“And you would have married Mary!” the woman commented upon the issue of the fight. It was both a taunt and an accusation.
The man lifted his brows questioningly, as at a loss to comprehend her meaning.
“Has that anything to do with it?’ he asked. ’I don’t see the connection.”
The sentences were short, but signified many things.
Frances Ewing was a shady name thereafter, to those “in the know”. Pennycuick blood and pride notwithstanding, she seemed to lose her own sustaining self-respect when she lost the respect of the man she loved —when he showed her with such barbarous and uncompromising candour the essential difference between a mistress and a wife. Of course, she “got over” that grievous affair, which, for a time, broke whatever heart she had to break. Her freedom and her money, her youth and her beauty, were still hers, and she made the most of them; and that most was a great deal. In her cosmopolitan sets she was a popular and distinguished figure. From one fashionably rowdy Continental resort to another she carried her rich jewels and trappings, and her personal magnetism, and sat down for the season to a campaign of social stratagem and sentimental intrigue—to the indulgence of her unbridled appetite for excitement and the admiration of men. And ever at the end, when it was time to move on to another Bijou apartment in another place, there was a fresh scalp at her girdle, and nothing, as it were, to show for it, until at last her vanity was tempted with a title, and she married an Italian count, who, if all tales were true, paid the debt that his sex owed her with heavy interest. But those tales did not reach the ears of the sisters at home. To them—with the object of suitably impressing them—she wrote an occasional note, of which half the words were titles of nobility; and the humbler relatives accepted the fact of her unapproachable elevation above them. The Breens made easy jokes upon the subject; Mr Goldsworthy’s jealousy of her was overcome by his pride in the connection. “We had a letter from my sister-in-law, the Countess, the other day,” he would amiably remark, and proceed to repeat and amplify the fashionable intelligence contained therein, instead of taking away her character as he had been used to do. Deborah was the only sister with whom she can be said to have corresponded, and Deborah had a shrewd suspicion that all was not gold that glittered in Francie’s lot. Deborah had the best means of knowing, being herself a world-traveller, and what is called a society woman, as well known in the resorts of such as Frances herself. But although they seemed to run so closely, and so much upon the same lines, there was as wide a gap of social difference and non-intimacy between them as between any two of their family. And Deb was not one to think evil of her own flesh and blood, if it was possible to think good.