“You know it is not only that,” said Babie; “Allen is bound in honour to marry Elvira, to repair the great injustice. It is a great pity she will not marry him now at once, but I think she is afraid, because then, you know, she would get to have a soul, like Undine, and she doesn’t want one yet.”
“That’s a new view of the case,” said Lord Fordham in his peculiar lazy manner, “and taken allegorically it may be the true one.”
“But one would like to have a soul,” said Sydney.
“I’m not sure,” said Babie, with a great look of awe. “One would know it was best, but it would be very tremendous to feel all sorts of thoughts and perceptions swelling up in one.”
“If that is the soul,” said Armine.
“Which is the soul?” said Babie, “our understanding, or our feelings, or both?”
“Both,” said Sydney, undoubtingly.
“I don’t know,” said Babie. “Poor little Chico has double the heart of his mistress.”
“It is quite true,” said Fordham. “We may share intellect with demons, but we do share what is called heart with animals.”
“I think good animals have a sort of soul,” observed Armine.
“And of course, Elvira has a soul,” said Sydney, who was getting bewildered.
“Theologically speaking-yes,” said Armine, making them all laugh, “and I suppose Undine hadn’t. But it was sense and heart that was wanting.”
“The heart would bring the sense,” said Lord Fordham, “and so we have come round to the Infanta’s first assertion that the young lady shrinks from the awakening.”
“I’ll tell you what she really does care for,” said Babie, “and what I believe would waken up her soul much better than marrying poor Allen,”
The announcement was so extraordinary that they all turned their heads to listen.
“Her old black nurse at San Ildefonso,” said Babie. “I believe going back there would do her all the good in the world.”
“There’s something in that notion,” said Armine. “She is always better-tempered in a hot country.”
“Yes,” added Babie, “and you didn’t see her when somebody advised our trying the West Indies for the winter. Her eyes gleamed, and she panted, and I didn’t know what she was going to do. I told mother at night, but she said she was afraid of going there, because of the yellow fever, and that San Ildefonso had been made a coaling-station by the Americans, so it would only disappoint her. But Elfie looked -I never saw any one look as she did-fit to kill some one when she found it was given up, and she did not get over it for ever so long.”
“Take care; here’s an apparition,” said Armine, as a brilliant figure darted out in a Moorish dress, rich jacket, short full white tunic, full trousers tied at the ankles, coins pendulous on the brow, bracelets, anklets, and rows of pearls. It was a dress on which Elvira had set her heart in readiness for fancy balls; it had been procured with great difficulty and expense, and had just come home from the French modiste who had adapted it to European wear.