Page:Out of due time, Ward, 1906.djvu/40

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30
OUT OF DUE TIME.

She sat down on the bench beside me and laughed heartily. "How amusing! how nice! I thought you were going to be one of the horrid, smart, stupid, detestable girls"—her voice rose with her adjectives in singularly vituperative effect—"whom Maman tries to send here, and who understand nothing and care for nothing and tire Paul. Do you know," she went on, with a delicious child's expression in her face, "that was why I put on my very best gown, and oh ciel! I forgot, I am spoiling it on this bench. And you are really quite nice, and my yellow satin wasn't needed!" she added to herself. "It is too late to make it worth while to change, but why spoil it on the mossy stone?"

We got up, she took my arm and we strolled on.

"You see, my mother will bother me with people who don't really want me, and who are of no use to Paul, and I can't stand it; I had enough of the world, bien assez, at home. I shall go back to it some day, but not now. We have come to England for a purpose, and we don't want to be bothered."

I felt a little jarred by something in these last remarks. How Marcelle jumped at things! She seemed from this moment to take for granted that I knew nothing of the world she had abandoned, and my poor little vanity did not quite like it. Still there was something winning in the amazing candour with which she registered each impression. We chattered away happily after that for a longish time, strolling up and down the stone-flagged terrace that lay on one side of the house and ran along the river side of the first garden. Leaning over its low parapet, and looking across the road some twenty feet below us, we could just distinguish the white foam of the brawling stream as it broke over the stones. The long, northern summer twilight had faded at last, and there was darkness clinging about the old walls. Deep shadows without edges lay about us, and clear skies that lit us dimly without rays of light drew our eyes to the sky-