“What I want to do is to make people think,” he said, turning his prominent eyes on to his hostess; “it’s so hard to make people think.”
“At any rate you give them the opportunity,” said Comus, cryptically.
As the ladies rose to leave the table Comus crossed over to pick up one of Lady Veula’s gloves that had fallen to the floor.
“I did not know you kept a dog,” said Lady Veula.
“We don’t,” said Comus, “there isn’t one in the house.”
“I could have sworn I saw one follow you across the hall this evening,” she said.
“A small black dog, something like a schipperke?” asked Comus in a low voice.
“Yes, that was it.”
“I saw it myself to-night; it ran from behind my chair just as I was sitting down. Don’t say anything to the others about it; it would frighten my mother.”
“Have you ever seen it before?” Lady Veula asked quickly.
“Once, when I was six years old. It followed my father downstairs.”
Lady Veula said nothing. She knew that Comus had lost his father at the age of six.
In the drawing-room Serena made nervous excuses for her talkative friend.
“Really, rather an interesting man, you know, and up to the eyes in all sorts of movements. Just the sort of person to turn loose at a drawing-room meeting, or to send down to a mission-hall in some unheard-of neighbourhood. Given a sounding-board and a harmonium, and a titled woman of some sort in the chair, and he’ll be perfectly happy; I must say I hadn’t realised how overpowering he might be at a small dinner-party.”
“I should say he was a very good man,” said Mrs. Greech; she had forgiven the mutilation of her soup-plate story.
The party broke up early as most of the guests had other engagements to keep. With a belated recognition of the farewell nature of the occasion they made pleasant little good-bye remarks to Comus, with the usual predictions of prosperity and anticipations of an ultimate auspicious return. Even Henry Greech sank his personal dislike of the boy for the moment, and made hearty jocular allusions to a home-coming, which, in the elder man’s eyes, seemed possibly pleasantly remote. Lady Veula alone made no reference to the future; she simply said, “Good-bye, Comus,” but her voice was the kindest of all and he responded with a look of gratitude. The weariness in her eyes was more marked than ever as she lay back against the cushions of her carriage.
“What a tragedy life is,” she said, aloud to herself.