Talcott replied, smiling dimly. Again there was silence and then Madame von Marwitz said, in a voice a little forced: "You have not got much out of life, have you, Tallie?" "Well, no; I don't expect you would say as I had," Mrs. Talcott acquiesced, showing a slight surprise.
I have nothing to reproach myself with, Tallie; nothing; and if his life is ruined I can say, with my hand on my heart," Madame von Marwitz laid it there "that he alone is to blame for it. A more odious, arrogant, ignorant being," she added, "I have never encountered. Karen is well rid of him." Mrs. Talcott remained unmoved.
"I do not like my piano touched, you know, Karen, unless permission is given. No matter, no matter, my child. Let it not occur again, that is all. You have not found the right balance of that phrase," she stooped and reiterated with emphasis a fragment of the prelude. "And now I will begin my work, if you please. Tallie waits for you, I think, in the garden, and would be glad of your help.
Shall I not have my supper with her? Perhaps she would like that?" "That would perhaps be well," said Madame von Marwitz. "That is perhaps well thought." Still she paused and still, in the glass, she fixed cogitating eyes on Karen. She turned, then, abruptly. "But no; I do not think so. On second thoughts I do not think so. You will dine with us. Tallie is quite happy alone.
From Tallie came no word, and this implied that Tallie, too, was convinced, though Tallie, no doubt, was furious, and would, as usual, lay the blame on her. Danger, however, lurked in Tallie's direction, and until she was safely out of England with Karen she should not feel herself secure.
She leaned her forehead on her hand, shading her eyes as she pondered. "A letter of noble admission; of sorrow; of love. Ah! you recall me to my better self. It will touch her, Tallie; it is bound to touch her, is it not? She cannot feel the bitterness she now feels if she reads such a letter; is not that so, Tallie?" "That's so. You've got it," said Mrs. Talcott.
When Karen returned, Madame von Marwitz, whose feet were now finished, took her place in an easy chair and said: "Now to work. Leave the accounts for Schultz. I've glanced at some of them this morning and, as usual, I seem to be spending twice as much as I make. How the money runs away I cannot imagine. And Tallie sends me a great batch of bills from Cornwall, bon Dieu!"
"Have you no other hat beside the best?" "No, Tante. And I like my little cap. You gave it to me years ago don't you remember; the first time that we went to Russia together." "Years ago, indeed, I should imagine from its appearance. Well; it makes no difference; you will soon be leaving town and it will do for Cornwall and Tallie."
Gardening, and reading; and quiet times with Tante and Tallie. Though, for the moment, I must be much with my guest; I am helping him with his work. He has talent, yes; it is a strange and complicated nature. You did not expect to find him here?" Karen held Tante's hand and her gaze was innocent of surmise. Mr. Drew had never entered her thoughts. "No. Yes. No, Tante. He came with you?"
She walked down the long room, her arm around Karen, with a buoyancy of tread and demeanour in which, however, Karen, so deep an adept in her moods discovered excitement rather than gaiety. "Has it been a good day for my child?" she questioned; "a happy, peaceful day? Yes? You have been much with Tallie? I told Tallie that she must postpone the trip to Helston so that she might stay with you."