“And this change which we were speaking about?” he asked, lowering his voice as they reached the lawn.
“I believe that somehow or other the end is coming,” she said. “Francis, forgive me if I tell you this—or rather let me be forgiven—but I know of one crime my father has committed, and it makes me fear that there may be others. And I have the feeling, somehow, that the end is close at hand and that he feels it, just as we might feel a thunder-storm in the air.”
“I am going to prove the immemorial selfishness of my sex,” he whispered, as they drew near the little table. “Promise me one thing and I don’t care if your father is Beelzebub himself. Promise me that, whatever happens, it shall not make any difference to us?”
She smiled at him very wonderfully, a smile which had to take the place of words, for there were servants now within hearing, and Sir Timothy himself was standing in the doorway.
Lady Cynthia and Sir Timothy strolled after dinner to the bottom of the lawn and watched the punt which Francis was propelling turn from the stream into the river.
“Perfectly idyllic,” Lady Cynthia sighed.
“We have another punt,” her companion suggested.
She shook her head.
“I am one of those unselfish people,” she declared, “whose idea of repose is not only to rest oneself but to see others rest. I think these two chairs, plenty of cigarettes, and you in your most gracious and discoursive mood, will fill my soul with content.”
“Your decision relieves my mind,” her companion declared, as he arranged the cushions behind her back. “I rather fancy myself with a pair of sculls, but a punt-pole never appealed to me. We will sit here and enjoy the peace. To-morrow night you will find it all disturbed—music and raucous voices and the stampede of my poor, frightened horses in the park. This is really a very gracious silence.”
“Are those two really going to marry?” Lady Cynthia asked, moving her head lazily in the direction of the disappearing punt.
“I imagine so.”
“And you? What are you going to do then?”
“I am planning a long cruise. I telegraphed to Southampton to-day. I am having my yacht provisioned and prepared. I think I shall go over to South America.”
She was silent for a moment.
“Alone?” she asked presently.
“I am always alone,” he answered.
“That is rather a matter of your own choice, is it not?”
“Perhaps so. I have always found it hard to make friends. Enemies seem to be more in my line.”
“I have not found it difficult to become your friend,” she reminded him.
“You are one of my few successes,” he replied.