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Chapter IV

After that Sunday call, Gyp sat in the window at Bury Street close to a bowl of heliotrope on the window-sill. She was thinking over a passage of their conversation.

"Mrs. Fiorsen, tell me about yourself."

"Why? What do you want to know?"

"Your marriage?"

"I made a fearful mistake--against my father's wish. I haven't seen my husband for months; I shall never see him again if I can help it. Is that enough?"

"And you love him?"

"No."

"It must be like having your head in chancery. Can't you get it out?"

"No."

"Why?"

"Divorce-court! Ugh! I couldn't!"

"Yes, I know--it's hellish!"

Was he, who gripped her hand so hard and said that, really the same nonchalant young man who had leaned out of the carriage window, gurgling with laughter? And what had made the difference? She buried her face in the heliotrope, whose perfume seemed the memory of his visit; then, going to the piano, began to play. She played Debussy, McDowell, Ravel; the chords of modern music suited her feelings just then. And she was still playing when her father came in. During these last nine months of his daughter's society, he had regained a distinct measure of youthfulness, an extra twist in his little moustache, an extra touch of dandyism in his clothes, and the gloss of his short hair. Gyp stopped playing at once, and shut the piano.

"Mr. Summerhay's been here, Dad. He was sorry to miss you."

There was an appreciable pause before Winton answered:

"My dear, I doubt it."

And there passed through Gyp the thought that she could never again be friends with a man without giving that pause. Then, conscious that her father was gazing at her, she turned and said:

"Well, was it nice in the Park?"

"Thirty years ago they were all nobs and snobs; now God himself doesn't know what they are!"

"But weren't the flowers nice?"

"Ah--and the trees, and the birds--but, by Jove, the humans do their best to dress the balance!"

"What a misanthrope you're getting!"

"I'd like to run a stud for two-leggers; they want proper breeding. What sort of a fellow is young Summerhay? Not a bad face."

She answered impassively:

"Yes; it's so alive."

In spite of his self-control, she could always read her father's thoughts quicker than he could read hers, and knew that he was struggling between the wish that she should have a good time and the desire to convey some kind of warning. He said, with a sigh:

"What does a young man's fancy turn to in summer, Gyp?"

Women who have subtle instincts and some experience are able to impose their own restraint on those who, at the lifting of a hand, would become their lovers. From that afternoon on, Gyp knew that a word from her would change everything; but she was far from speaking it. And yet, except at week-ends, when she went back to her baby at Mildenham, she saw Summerhay most days--in the Row, at the opera, or at Bury Street. She had a habit of going to St. James's Park in the late afternoon and sitting there by the water. Was it by chance that he passed one day on his way home from chambers, and that, after this, they sat there together constantly? Why make her father uneasy--when there was nothing to be uneasy about--by letting him come too often to Bury Street? It was so pleasant, too, out there, talking calmly of many things, while in front of them the small ragged children fished and put the fishes into clear glass bottles, to eat, or watch on rainy days, as is the custom of man with the minor works of God.

So, in nature, when the seasons are about to change, the days pass, tranquil, waiting for the wind that brings in the new. And was it not natural to sit under the trees, by the flowers and the water, the pigeons and the ducks, that wonderful July? For all was peaceful in Gyp's mind, except, now and then, when a sort of remorse possessed her, a sort of terror, and a sort of troubling sweetness.

John Galsworthy