"Surely whoever speaks to me in the right voice,
him or her I shall follow.
As the water follows the moon, silently,
with fluid steps anywhere around the globe."
"Now my cousins are at Diplow," said Grandcourt, "will you go there?--to-
morrow? The carriage shall come for Mrs. Davilow. You can tell me what you
would like done in the rooms. Things must be put in decent order while we are
away at Ryelands. And to-morrow is the only day."
He was sitting sideways on a sofa in the drawing-room at Offendene, one hand
and elbow resting on the back, and the other hand thrust between his crossed
knees--in the attitude of a man who is much interested in watching the person
next to him. Gwendolen, who had always disliked needlework, had taken to it
with apparent zeal since her engagement, and now held a piece of white
embroidery which, on examination, would have shown many false stitches.
During the last eight or nine days their hours had been chiefly spent on
horseback, but some margin had always been left for this more difficult sort of
companionship, which, however, Gwendolen had not found disagreeable. She
was very well satisfied with Grandcourt. His answers to her lively questions about
what he had seen and done in his life, bore drawling very well. From the first she
had noticed that he knew what to say; and she was constantly feeling not only
that he had nothing of the fool in his composition, but that by some subtle means
he communicated to her the impression that all the folly lay with other people,
who did what he did not care to do. A man who seems to have been able to
command the best, has a sovereign power of depreciation. Then Grandcourt's
behavior as a lover had hardly at all passed the limit of an amorous homage
which was inobtrusive as a wafted odor of roses, and spent all its effects in a
gratified vanity. One day, indeed, he had kissed not her cheek but her neck a
little below her ear; and Gwendolen, taken by surprise, had started up with a
marked agitation which made him rise too and say, "I beg your pardon--did I
annoy you?" "Oh, it was nothing," said Gwendolen, rather afraid of herself, "only I
cannot bear--to be kissed under my ear." She sat down again with a little playful
laugh, but all the while she felt her heart beating with a vague fear: she was no
longer at liberty to flout him as she had flouted poor Rex. Her agitation seemed
not uncomplimentary, and he had been contented not to transgress again.
To-day a slight rain hindered riding; but to compensate, a package had come
from London, and Mrs. Davilow had just left the room after bringing in for
admiration the beautiful things (of Grandcourt's ordering) which lay scattered
about on the tables. Gwendolen was just then enjoying the scenery of her life.
She let her hands fall on her lap, and said with a pretty air of perversity--