A voice said, “Money!”
Which of the sisters had spoken Adela did not know. It was bitter enough that one could be brought to utter the thing, even if her ideas were so base as to suspect it. The tears now came dancing over her under-lids like triumphing imps. “Money!” echoed through her again and again. Curiously, too, she had no occasion to ask how it was that money might be supposed to have operated on her father’s health. Unable to realize to herself the image of her father lying ill and suffering, but just sufficiently touched by what she could conceive of his situation, the bare whisper of money came like a foul insult to overwhelm her in floods of liquid self-love. She wept with that last anguish of a woman who is compelled to weep, but is incapable of finding any enjoyment in her tears. Cornelia and Arabella caught her hands; she was the youngest, and had been their pet. It gratified them that Adela should show a deep and keen feeling. Adela did not check herself from a demonstration that enabled her to look broadly, as it were, on her own tenderness of heart. Following many outbursts, she asked, “And the illness—what is it? not its cause—itself!”
A voice said, “Paralysis!”
Adela’s tears stopped. She gazed on both faces, trying with open mouth to form the word.
Flying from port to port to effect an exchange of stewards (the endless occupation of a yacht proprietor), Wilfrid had no tidings from Brookfield. The night before the gathering on Besworth Lawn he went to London and dined at his Club—a place where youths may drink largely of the milk of this world’s wisdom. Wilfrid’s romantic sentiment was always corrected by an hour at his Club. After dinner he strolled to a not perfectly regulated theatre, in company with a brother officer; and when they had done duty before the scenes for a space of time, they lounged behind to disenchant themselves, in obedience to that precocious cynicism which is the young man’s extra-Luxury. The first figure that caught Wilfrid’s attention there was Mr. Pericles, in a white overcoat, stretched along a sofa—his eyelids being down, though his eyes were evidently vigilant beneath. A titter of ladies present told of some recent interesting commotion.
“Only a row between that rich Greek fellow who gave the supper, and Marion,” a vivacious dame explained to Wilfrid. “She’s in one of her jealous fits; she’d be jealous if her poodle-dog went on its hind-legs to anybody else.”
“Poodle, by Jove!” said Wilfrid. “Pericles himself looks like an elongated poodle shaved up to his moustache. Look at him. And he plays the tyrant, does he?”
“Oh! she stands that. Some of those absurd women like it, I think. She’s fussing about another girl.”
“What man’s worth it?”
“But, would you?”
“It depends upon the ‘him,’ monsieur.