she called out. "really, this table is getting to be more and more like bedlam every day, with everybody talking at once. sometimes--i hope god will forgive me--but positively, sometimes i wish victor would lose the power of speech."
"she knows what i think of them," said mrs. meldrum, "and indeed she knows what i think of most things."
"she shares that privilege with most of your friends!" i replied laughing.
"no doubt; but possibly to some of my friends it makes a little difference. that girl doesn't care a button. she knows best of all what i think of flora saunt."
"and what may your opinion be?"
"why, that she's not worth troubling about-- an idiot too abysmal."
"doesn't she care for that?"
"just enough, as you saw, to hug me till i cry out. she's too pleased with herself for anything else to matter."
"surely, my dear friend," i rejoined, "she has a good deal to be pleased with!"
"so every one tells her, and so you would have told her if i had given you the chance. however, that doesn't signify either, for her vanity is beyond all making or mending. she believes in herself, and she's welcome, after all, poor dear, having only herself to look to. i've seldom met a young woman more completely free to be silly. she has a clear course--she'll make a showy finish."
"well," i replied, "as she probably will reduce many persons to the same degraded state, her partaking of it won't stand out so much."
dona concha had listened to this eloquent harangue–they sat alone at one end of the long sala while luis at the other toiled over letters to the governor and his father advising them of the formidable honor of the russian’s visit–in exactly the temper he would have chosen. her fine eyes had melted and run over at the moving tale of the sufferings of the servants of the company–until his own had softened in response and he had impulsively kissed her hand; they had dilated and flashed as he spoke of his personal apprehensions; and when he had given her a practical explanation of his reasons for coming to california she had given him advice as practical in return.
"shall i feel no bond binding me to the men to come, and desire no good or beauty for them--i, who am what i am, and enjoy what i enjoy, because for countless ages in the past men have lived and laboured, who lived not for themselves alone, and counted no costs? would the great statue, the great poem, the great reform ever be accomplished, if men counted the cost and created for their own lives alone? and no man liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. you cannot tell me not to love the men who shall be after me; a soft voice within me, i know not what, cries out ever, 'live for them as for your own children.' when in the circle of my own small life all is dark, and i despair, that something nobler and fairer may spring up in the spot where i now stand."
on the next day they continued their journey till the heat compelled them to look round for shelter. at a small distance they saw a thick wood, which they no sooner entered than they perceived that they were approaching the habitations of men. the shrubs were diligently cut away to open walks where the shades ware darkest; the boughs of opposite trees were artificially interwoven; seats of flowery turf were raised in vacant spaces; and a rivulet that wantoned along the side of a winding path had its banks sometimes opened into small basins, and its stream sometimes obstructed by little mounds of stone heaped together to increase its murmurs.
trenchard snarled viciously. "`tis that mongrel grey," said he. "oh, anthony, to what an affair have we set our hands? naught can prosper with that fellow in it." he laid his hand on wilding's arm and lowered his voice. "as i have hinted before, `twould not surprise me if time proved him a traitor. failure attends him everywhere, and so unfailingly that one wonders is not failure invited by him. and that fool monmouth! pshaw.! see what it is to serve a weakling. with another in his place and the country disaffected as it is, we had been masters of england by now."
"i have every reason believe that we shall be in time to stop it. but to-day being saturday rather complicates matters. i shall want your help to-night."
"at what time?"
"ten will be early enough."
"i shall be at baker street at ten."
"very well. and, i say, doctor, there may be some little danger, so kindly put your army revolver in your pocket." he waved his hand, turned on his heel, and disappeared in an instant among the crowd.
i trust that i am not more dense than my neighbors, but i was always oppressed with a sense of my own stupidity in my dealings with sherlock holmes. here i had heard what he had heard, i had seen what he had seen, and yet from his words it was evident that he saw clearly not only what had happened but what was about to happen, while to me the whole business was still confused and grotesque.