"And Mrs. er Cartaret lives in London, doesn't she?" "Oh, yes." Mary's tone implied that you couldn't expect that brilliant lady to live anywhere else. There was a moment in which Rowcliffe again evoked the image of the third Mrs. Cartaret who was "the very one." If anything could have depressed him more, that did. But he pulled himself together. There were things he had to know.
"Your sister didn't tell me that. "She couldn't." "I mean your other sister Miss Cartaret." "She wouldn't. She'd think it rather awful." He laughed. "Heaps of people think it awful to tell the truth. Do you happen to know why she doesn't like the place?" She was silent. Evidently there was some "awfulness" she shrank from. "Too lonely for her, I suppose?" "Much too lonely."
The harbour has two other lights and, although it can only be entered at certain tides, the little port contrives to carry on a considerable export trade of farm produce, most of it being consumed in the Channel Islands. The railway goes on to its terminus at Cartaret, a nicely situated little seaside village close to the cape of the same name.
Cartaret than he knew. The very fact that Essy was a Wesleyan and so far an unwilling conformist gave a peculiar zest to the performance. It was always the same. It started with a look through his glasses, leveled at each member of his household in turn, as if he desired to satisfy himself as to the expression of their faces while at the same time he defied them to protest.
Of course he didn't mean that Mary was savage and inaccessible. It was Gwendolen that he meant. So, since he couldn't sit there much longer without saying something, he presently addressed himself to Mary. "Any news of Greatorex today?" "I haven't heard. Shall I ask Essy?" "No," said Mr. Cartaret, so abruptly that Mary looked at him. "He was worse yesterday," said Gwenda.
It was not as if there was anything personal in Gwenda's changing attitudes. And Rowcliffe did indeed say to himself, Restless restless. Yes. That was the word for her; and he supposed she couldn't help it. The study door opened and shut. Mary's eyes made a sign to him that said, "We can't talk about this before my father. He won't like it." But Mr. Cartaret had gone upstairs.
To himself in his study Mr. Cartaret appeared as the image of righteousness established in an impregnable place. Whereas his daughter Alice was not at all in a position to challenge and defy. She had made a fool of herself. She knew it; he knew it; everybody knew it in the parish they had left five months ago. It had been the talk of the little southern seaside town.
Gwenda Cartaret remained unaware of what was said. Rumor protected her by cutting her off from its own sources. And she had other consolations besides her ignorance. So long as she knew that Rowcliffe cared for her and always had cared, it did not seem to matter to her so much that he had married Mary.
Another year and she had left off asking him questions. She drew back into herself and became every day more self-willed, more solitary, more inaccessible. And now, if he could have seen things as they really were, Mr. Cartaret would have perceived that he was afraid of Gwenda. As it was, he thought he was only afraid of what Gwenda might do.
God knew he hadn't meant to set it for her, and God only knew how he was going to get her out of it. "Poor things," he thought, "if they only knew how horribly they embarrass me!" For of course she wasn't the first. The situation had repeated itself, monotonously, scores of times in his experience. It would have been a nuisance even if Alice Cartaret had not been Gwendolen Cartaret's sister.