“Then he has put the question. I told her he would,” she said.
“I believe he has asked her to marry him and she has refused, more than once. But he is importunate, and I hear she needs help.”
“Mr. Lindsay,” said Mrs. Sand, “is a very takin’ young man.”
“I suppose we must consider that. There is position too, and wealth. These things count—we are all so human—even against the Divine realities into possession of which Miss Filbert must have so perfectly entered.”
“I thought he must be pretty well off. Would he be one of them Government officials?”
“He is a broker.”
“Oh, is he indeed?” Mrs. Sand’s enlightenment was evidently doubtful. “Well, if they get married Captain Filbert ’ll have to resign. It’s against the regulations for her to marry outside of the Army.”
“But is she not vowed to her work; isn’t her life turned for ever into that channel? Would it not be horrible to you to see the world interfere?”
“I won’t say but what I’d be sorry to see her leave us. But I wouldn’t stand in her way either, and neither would Captain Sand.”
“Stand in her way! In her way to material luxury, poverty of spirit, the shirking of all the high alternatives, the common moral mediocrity of the world. I would to God I could be that stumbling block! I have heard her—I have seen the light in her that may so possibly be extinguished.”
“I don’t deny she has a kind of platform gift, but she’s losin’ her voice. And she doesn’t understand briskin’ people up, if you know what I mean.”
“She will be pulled down—she will go under!” Arnold repeated in the depths of his spirit. He stood up, fumbling with his hat. Mrs. Sand and her apartment, her children out of doors in the perambulator, and the whole organisation to which she appertained had grown oppressive and unnecessary. He was aware of a desire to put his foot again in his own world, where things were seen, were understood. He thought there might be solace in relating the affair to Brother Colquhoun.
“It’s a case,” said Mrs. Sand judicially, “where I wouldn’t think myself called on to say one word. Such things everyone has a right to decide for themselves. But you oughtn’t to forget that a married woman”—she looked at Arnold’s celibate habit as if to hold it accountable for much—“can have a great influence for good over him that she chooses. I am pretty sure Captain Filbert’s already got Mr. Lindsay almost persuaded. I shouldn’t be at all surprised if he joined the Army himself when she’s had a good chance at him.”
Arnold put on his hat with a groan, and began the descent of the stairs. “Good-afternoon then,” Mrs. Sand called out to him from the top. He turned mechanically and bared his head. “I beg your pardon,” he said. “Good-afternoon.”