Chapter 16: Lying to George
"It is being young," he said quietly, picking up his racquet from
the floor and preparing to go. "It is being certain that Lucy
cares for me really. It is that love and youth matter
In silence the two women watched him. His last remark, they knew,
was nonsense, but was he going after it or not? Would not he, the
cad, the charlatan, attempt a more dramatic finish? No. He was
apparently content. He left them, carefully closing the front
door; and when they looked through the hall window, they saw him
go up the drive and begin to climb the slopes of withered fern
behind the house. Their tongues were loosed, and they burst into
"Oh, Lucia--come back here--oh, what an awful man!"
Lucy had no reaction--at least, not yet. "Well, he amuses me,"
she said. "Either I'm mad, or else he is, and I'm inclined to
think it's the latter. One more fuss through with you, Charlotte.
Many thanks. I think, though, that this is the last. My admirer
will hardly trouble me again."
And Miss Bartlett, too, essayed the roguish:
"Well, it isn't every one who could boast such a conquest,
dearest, is it? Oh, one oughtn't to laugh, really. It might have
been very serious. But you were so sensible and brave--so unlike
the girls of my day."
"Let's go down to them."
But, once in the open air, she paused. Some emotion--pity,
terror, love, but the emotion was strong--seized her, and she was
aware of autumn. Summer was ending, and the evening brought her
odours of decay, the more pathetic because they were reminiscent
of spring. That something or other mattered intellectually? A
leaf, violently agitated, danced past her, while other leaves lay
motionless. That the earth was hastening to re-enter darkness,
and the shadows of those trees over Windy Corner?
"Hullo, Lucy! There's still light enough for another set, if you