I may as well say at once that I don't think you ought to flirt with him—he takes it much too seriously. Things cannot remain as they are for ever; there must be a climax. For the present he has put you on a pedestal and worships you afar off, but sooner or later he will remember that you are flesh. Man, after all, is not a spirit."
Cynthia laughed or—to be truthful at the expense of euphony—chuckled. "How you exaggerate!" she said. "Mr. Provence has come here for his health, and naturally wishes to be amused. Besides, when a man has been ordered complete rest, he likes to imagine himself in love with some woman. It is marmalade for the pill. If I had not appeared he would have discovered unique attractions in his landlady."
"Why did he not choose Agatha?" said Lady Theodosia.
Cynthia gave her answer unconsciously by looking into the mirror which faced them. "My dear aunt," she said, "Agatha is dutiful, and thinks of others and reads Hooker—she will no doubt get a kind husband. But he will never be her lover. Men do not love these still women—they have a high opinion of them."
"I have no more to say," said Lady Theodosia, "except this—these literary and artistic people are very dangerous. You never find two alike, and the only certain thing about them is that ultimately they will do something to make everybody uncomfortable."
But she was not pleased with her niece that day. She herself was no doubt very worldly, very cynical and very heartless, but she had not always been so;