“Will you write to that Austrian colonel, your cousin, to say “Never! never!” to-morrow, Wilfrid?”
“While you are in England, I shall stay, be sure of that.”
She bade him give her love to all Brookfield.
“Once you had none to give but what I let you take back for the purpose!” he said. “Farewell! I shall see the harp to-night. It stands in the old place. I will not have it moved or touched till you—”
“Ah! how kind you were, Wilfrid!”
“And how lovely you are!”
There was no struggle to preserve the backs of her fingers from his lips, and, as this time his phrase was not palpably obscured by the one it countered, artistic sentiment permitted him to go.
A minute after his parting with Emilia, Wilfrid swung round in the street and walked back at great strides. “What a fool I was not to see that she was acting indifference!” he cried. “Let me have two seconds with her!” But how that was to be contrived his diplomatic brain refused to say. “And what a stiff, formal fellow I was all the time!” He considered that he had not uttered a sentence in any way pointed to touch her heart. “She must think I am still determined to marry that woman.”
Wilfrid had taken his stand on the opposite side of the street, and beheld a male figure in the dusk, that went up to the house and then stood back scanning the windows. Wounded by his audacious irreverence toward the walls behind which his beloved was sheltered, Wilfrid crossed and stared at the intruder. It proved to be Braintop.
“How do you do, sir!—no! that can’t be the house,” stammered Braintop, with a very earnest scrutiny.
“What house? what do you want?” enquired Wilfrid.
“Jenkinson,” was the name that won the honour of rescuing Braintop from this dilemma.
“No; it is Lady Gosstre’s house: Miss Belloni is living there; and stop: you know her. Just wait, and take in two or three words from me, and notice particularly how she is looking, and the dress she wears. You can say—say that Mrs. Chump sent you to enquire after Miss Belloni’s health.”
Wilfrid tore a leaf from his pocket-book, and wrote:
“I can be free to-morrow. One word! I shall expect it, with your name in full.”
But even in the red heat of passion his born diplomacy withheld his own signature. It was not difficult to override Braintop’s scruples about presenting himself, and Wilfrid paced a sentinel measure awaiting the reply. “Free to-morrow,” he repeated, with a glance at his watch under a lamp: and thus he soliloquized: “What a time that fellow is! Yes, I can be free to-morrow if I will. I wonder what the deuce Gambier had to do in Monmouthshire. If he has been playing with my sister’s reputation, he shall have short shrift. That fellow Braintop sees her now—my