Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/448

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In the meantime Wiche's half-hour had come to an end. The clock was chiming five when he appeared at the drawing-room window. Rookes sprang to his feet: Lady Mallinger affected to laugh. "My cousin is teasing me," she said, "he will not let me tell him that I am really a very serious woman. He—he does not believe in me as you do!" As she spoke she touched Wiche's arm as though to assert her ownership. Neither of the men spoke: a footman entered and announced that tea was served on the lawn.

"We must go then," said Lilian. She led the way, but when she turned, she found that only Wiche had followed her.

"It is as well," she said, in her prettiest manner; "we are happier by ourselves!" This was no doubt charming, and it may have been true. Wiche, however, was no less troubled by the fact than the possibility. Both were distracting, for, at that moment, he wished to overlook her fascination and think only of what was certain. And the one thing certain was, in his judgment, her love for Rookes. This truth—like all truths—had flashed upon him like a message from his guardian angel.

"Do not look so grave," said Lady Mallinger; "we have been serious the whole afternoon, and now I want to rest! Do you like me in pink? Because