The Colonel's profile, ruddy through its tan, with grey moustache guiltless of any wax, his cheery, high-pitched: "Good-night, young Lennan!" His wife's curly smile, her flat, cosy, confidential voice how strange and remote they had suddenly become! And all these people here, chattering, drinking how queer and far away! Or was it just that he was queer and remote to them?
One of these July evenings Lennan remembered beyond all others. He had come, after a hard day's work, out from his studio into the courtyard garden to smoke a cigarette and feel the sun on his cheek before it sank behind the wall. A piano-organ far away was grinding out a waltz; and on an hydrangea tub, under the drawing-room window, he sat down to listen.
Lennan held the black horse a bizarre little beast, all fire and whipcord, with a skin like satin, liquid eyes, very straight hocks, and a thin bang-tail reaching down to them. The little creature had none of those commonplace good looks so discouraging to artists. He had forgotten its rider, till she looked up from the dogs, and said: "Do you like him? It IS nice of you to be going to do us."
When he had left her alone, she remained where she was standing, by her wardrobe, without sound or movement, thinking: What am I going to do? How am I going to live? When Mark Lennan, travelling through from Beaulieu, reached his rooms in Chelsea, he went at once to the little pile of his letters, twice hunted through them, then stood very still, with a stunned, sick feeling.
Besides, Cramier, no doubt, was what most women would call good-looking; more taking to the eye than such a quiet fellow as young Lennan, whose features were rather anyhow, though pleasant enough, and with a nice smile the sort of young man one could not help liking, and who certainly would never hurt a fly!
Because, there is just one thing always worth remembering women have none of that better part of valour." "I think women are the best things in the world," the boy blurted out. "May you long have that opinion!" His tutor had risen, and was ironically surveying his knees. "A bit stiff!" he said. "Let me know when you change your views!" "I never shall, sir." "Ah, ah! Never is a long word, Lennan.
He held the tortoise to his waistcoat, and let it crawl, till, noticing that it was gnawing the corner of his essay, he put it back into his pocket. What would his tutor do if he were to know it was there? cock his head a little to one side, and say: "Ah! there are things, Lennan, not dreamed of in my philosophy!"
And the sense that he counted for nothing in all of it grew and grew in him. He told no one of where he had been.... When the Colonel turned with ceremony and left him, Lennan sat down again on the flat stone, took up his 'putty stuff, and presently effaced that image. He sat still a long time, to all appearance watching the little blue butterflies playing round the red and tawny roses.
Dark red had suited her! Suited the look on her face when she said: "You're not to go!" Odd, indeed, if she had not some devil in her, with that parentage! Next day they had summoned him from the studio to see a peculiar phenomenon Johnny Dromore, very well groomed, talking to Sylvia with unnatural suavity, and carefully masking the goggle in his eyes! Mrs. Lennan ride? Ah! Too busy, of course.
And, unversed in this art, Lennan was fast finding it intolerable to scheme and watch himself, and mislead one who had looked up to him ever since they were children. Yet, all the time, he had a feeling that, since he alone knew all the circumstances of his case, he alone was entitled to blame or to excuse himself.