Sophia, however, did not stir.
“Your mother’s health is not what it ought to be,” she went on, and gave him a full account of her conversation with the doctor.
“Really!” Cyril murmured, leaning on the mantel-piece with his elbow and looking down at her. “Stirling said that, did he? I should have thought she would have been better where she is, in the Square.”
“Why better in the Square?”
“Oh, I don’t know!”
“Neither do I!”
“She’s always been here.”
“Yes.” said Sophia, “she’s been here a great deal too long.”
“What do you suggest?” Cyril asked, with impatience in his voice against this new anxiety that was being thrust upon him.
“Well,” said Sophia, “what should you say to her coming to London and living with you?”
Cyril started back. Sophia could see that he was genuinely shocked. “I don’t think that would do at all,” he said.
“Oh! I don’t think it would. London wouldn’t suit her. She’s not that sort of woman. I really thought she was quite all right down here. She wouldn’t like London.” He shook his head, looking up at the gas; his eyes had a dangerous glare.
“But supposing she said she did?”
“Look here,” Cyril began in a new and brighter tone. “Why don’t you and she keep house together somewhere? That would be the very—”
He turned his head sharply. There was a noise on the staircase, and the staircase door opened with its eternal creak.
“Yes,” said Sophia. “The Champs Elysees begins at the Place de la Concorde, and ends——. Is that you, Constance?”
The figure of Constance filled the doorway. Her face was troubled. She had heard Cyril in the street, and had come down to see why he remained so long in the parlour. She was astounded to find Sophia with him. There they were, as intimate as cronies, chattering about Paris! Undoubtedly she was jealous! Never did Cyril talk like that to her!
“I thought you were in bed and asleep, Sophia,” she said weakly. “It’s nearly one o’clock.”
“No,” said Sophia. “I didn’t seem to feel like going to bed; and then Cyril happened to come in.”
But neither she nor Cyril could look innocent. And Constance glanced from one to the other apprehensively.
The next morning Cyril received a letter which, he said—with no further explanation—forced him to leave at once. He intimated that there had been danger in his coming just then, and that matters had turned out as he had feared.
“You think over what I said,” he whispered to Sophia when they were alone for an instant, “and let me know.”