were fine eyes, but unchangingly grave. The penholder might do its Gioconda trick, but the eyes never altered in their earnestness. Above them, a pair of boldly arched, heavily pencilled black eyebrows lent a surprising air of power, as of a Roman matron, to the upper portion of the face. Her hair was dark and equally Roman; Agrippina from the brows upward.
I thought Id just look in on my way home, Mr. Hutton went on. Ah, its good to be back herehe indicated with a wave of his hand the flowers in the vases, the sunshine and greenery beyond the windowsits good to be back in the country after a stuffy day of business in town.
Miss Spence, who had sat down, pointed to a chair at her side.
No, really, I cant sit down, Mr. Hutton protested. I must get back to see how poor Emily is. She was rather seedy this morning. He sat down, nevertheless. Its these wretched liver chills. Shes always getting them. Women He broke off and coughed, so as to hide the fact that he had uttered. He was about to say that women with weak digestions ought not to marry; but the remark was too cruel, and he didnt really believe it. Janet Spence, moreover, was a believer in eternal flames and spiritual attachments. She hopes to be well enough, he added, to see you at luncheon tomorrow. Can you come? Do! He smiled persuasively. Its my invitation, too, you know.
She dropped her eyes, and Mr. Hutton almost thought that he detected a certain reddening of the cheek. It was a tribute; he stroked his moustache.
I should like to come if you think Emilys really well enough to have a visitor.
Of course. Youll do her good. Youll do us both good. In married life three is often better company than two.
Oh, youre cynical.
Mr. Hutton always had a desire to say Bow-wow-wow whenever that last word was spoken. It irritated him more than any other word in the language. But instead of barking he made haste to protest.
No, no. Im only speaking a melancholy truth. Reality doesnt always come up to the ideal, you know. But that doesnt make me believe any the less in the ideal. Indeed, I believe in it passionatelythe ideal of a matrimony between two people in perfect accord. I think its realizable. Im sure it is.
He paused significantly, and looked at her with an arch expression. A virgin of thirty-six, but still unwithered; she had her charms. And there was something really rather enigmatic about her. Miss Spence made no reply, but continued to smile. There were times when Mr. Hutton got rather bored with the Gioconda. He stood up.
I must really be going now. Farewell, mysterious Gioconda. The smile grew intenser, focused itself, as it were, in a narrower snout. Mr. Hutton made a Cinquecento gesture, and kissed her extended hand. It was the first time he had done such a thing; the action seemed not to be resented. I look forward to tomorrow.
For answer, Mr. Hutton once more kissed her hand, then turned to go. Miss Spence accompanied him to the porch.
Wheres your car? she asked.
I left it at the gate of the drive.
Ill come and see you off.
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