Their hands were together now, and he felt hers cling suddenly as she said:
“Don’t—don’t let me drag you into this, Greg!”
“This is what I want you to believe,” Warren Gregory told her, “that you are not his wife, you are nothing to him any more. And some day, some day, you’re going to be happy again!”
A wonderful color flooded her face; she gave him a look half-frightened, half-won. Then with an almost inaudible “Good-night,” she was gone.
Warren Gregory stood watching the slender figure mount the steps. She did not turn to nod him a fare-well, but vanished like a shadow into the soft shadows of the doorway. Yet he was enough a lover to find consolation in that. Rachael Breckenridge was not flirting now, forces far greater than any she had ever known were threatening the shallow waters of her life, and she might well be troubled and afraid.
“She is not his wife any more,” Warren Gregory said, half aloud, as he turned back to his car. “From now on she belongs to me! She shall be mine!”
From that day on a bright undercurrent made bearable the trying monotony of her life. Rachael did not at once recognize the rapid change that began to take place in her own feelings, but she did realize that Warren Gregory’s attitude had altered everything in her world. He was flirting, of course, he was only half in earnest; but it was such delicious flirting, it was a half-earnestness so wonderfully satisfying and sweet.
She did not see him every day, sometimes she did not see him for two or three days, but no twenty-four hours went by without a message from him. A day or two after the troubled Sunday on which he had driven her home she stood silent a moment, in the lower hall, one hand resting on the little box of damp, delicious Freesia lilies, the fingers of the other twisting his card. The little message scribbled on the card meant nothing to other eyes, just the two words “Good morning!” but in some subtle way they signified to her a morning in a wider sense, a dawning of love and joy and peace in her life. The next day they met—and how wonderful these casual meetings among a hundred gay, unseeing folk, had suddenly become!—and on the following day he came to tea with her, a little hour whose dramatic and emotional beauty was enhanced rather than spoiled for them both when Clarence and Billy and some friends came in to end it.
On Thursday the doctor’s man delivered into Mrs. Breckenridge’s hand a package which proved to be a little book on Browning of which he had spoken to her. On the fly leaf was written in the donor’s small, fine handwriting, “R. from G. The way was Caponsacchi.” Rachael put the book on her bedside table, and wore June colors all day for the giver’s sake. Greg, she thought with a fluttering heart, was certainly taking things with rather a high hand. Could it be possible, could it be possible, that he cared for a woman at last, and was she, Rachael Breckenridge, a neglected wife, a penniless dependent upon an unloving husband, that woman?