“How English we are!” he exclaimed, with a touch of irony. “We have not thrown off the yoke, by any means—at Mr. Adams’, for instance, I could believe myself in England. How exclusive is the pompous little Minister! What respect for office! What adoration for landed gentry! What supercilious tolerance for tradesmen! Oh, indeed, it confounds me! But why should I trouble myself? I, who have the most adorable mistress in the world to think about! What are the kings, presidents, ministers, knaves of the world to me? Let Destiny shuffle them back and forth. I am indifferent to whichever is trumps.”
Then he fell into a reverie about his proposed visit to Mrs. Adams. Last night it had appeared to him an easy and natural thing to do. He was not so sure of his position this morning. Mr. Adams might be present; he was punctilious in the extreme, and a call without an invitation at that early hour might be considered an impertinence—especially if he had no opportunity to enlighten Mrs. Adams about his love for Miss Moran, and so ask her assistance. Then he began to doubt whether his mother was on sufficient terms of intimacy to warrant his speaking about the swans and laburnum seeds—in short, the visit that had seemed so natural and proper when he first conceived it, assumed, on reflection, an aspect of difficulty and almost of impropriety.
But there are times when laissez-aller carries all before it, and Hyde was in just such a mood. “I’ll run the chance,” he said. “I’ll risk it. I’ll let things take their course.” Then he began to dress, and as doubt of any kind is best ended by action, he gathered confidence as he did so. Fortunately, there was no hesitation this morning in his mind about his dress. He was going to ride to Richmond Hill, and he was quite satisfied with his riding suit. He knew that it was the next thing to a becoming uniform. He knew that he looked well in it; and he remembered with complaisance that it was old enough to be individual; and new enough to be handsome and striking.
And, after all, when a man is in love, to be reasonable is often to be cowardly. But Hyde was no coward; so then, it was not long ere he put all fears and doubts behind him and set his musings to the assertion: “I said to my heart, last night, that I would meet Cornelia at Richmond Hill this morning. I will not go back on my word. Such fluctuability is only fit for failure.”
When he was dressed he went to his hotel and breakfasted there; for the “cup of coffee” he had intended to ask of Mrs. Adams appeared, now, a little presumptuous. In the enthusiasm of the previous night, with Cornelia’s smiles warming his imagination and her words thrilling his heart, everything had seemed possible and natural; but last night and this morning were different epochs. Last night, he had been better, stronger than himself; this morning, he felt all the limitations of social conveniences and tyrannies. Early as it was, there were many