Page:The Lesson of the Master, The Marriages, The Pupil, Brooksmith, The Solution, Sir Edmund Orme (New York & London, Macmillan & Co., 1892).djvu/249

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for writing and sketching, were scattered near: the place was a comfortable lamplit corner in the general blankness. There was a piano near at hand, and beyond it were the doors of further chambers, in one of which my hostess's little daughter was asleep. There was always something vaguely annoying to me in these signs of occupation and independence: they seemed to limit the ground on which one could appeal to her for oneself.

"I'm tired and I'm hungry," I said, "but I can't think of my dinner till I've talked to you."

"Have you come all the way from Rome?"

"More than all the way, because I've been at Frascati."

"And how did you get here?"

"I hired a chaise and pair at Frascati—the man drove me over."

"At this hour? You weren't afraid of brigands?"

"Not when it was a question of seeing you. You must do something for me—you must stop it."

"What must I do, and what must I stop?" said Mrs. Rushbrook, sitting down.

"This odious union—it's too unnatural."

"I see, then. Veronica's to marry some one, and you want her for yourself."

"Don't be cruel, and don't torment me—I'm sore enough already. You know well enough whom I want to marry!" I broke out.

"How can I stop anything?" Mrs Rushbrook asked.

"When I see you this way, at home, between the fire and the lamp, with the empty place beside you—an image of charming domesticity—do you suppose I have any doubt as to what I want?"

She rested her eyes on the fire, as if she were turning my words over as an act of decent courtesy and of pretty