The doctor's professional visit to Hintock House was promptly repeated the next
day and the next. He always found Mrs. Charmond reclining on a sofa, and
behaving generally as became a patient who was in no great hurry to lose that
title. On each occasion he looked gravely at the little scratch on her arm, as if it
had been a serious wound.
He had also, to his further satisfaction, found a slight scar on her temple, and it
was very convenient to put a piece of black plaster on this conspicuous part of
her person in preference to gold-beater's skin, so that it might catch the eyes of
the servants, and make his presence appear decidedly necessary, in case there
should be any doubt of the fact.
"Oh--you hurt me!" she exclaimed one day.
He was peeling off the bit of plaster on her arm, under which the scrape had
turned the color of an unripe blackberry previous to vanishing altogether. "Wait a
moment, then--I'll damp it," said Fitzpiers. He put his lips to the place and kept
them there till the plaster came off easily. "It was at your request I put it on," said
"I know it," she replied. "Is that blue vein still in my temple that used to show
there? The scar must be just upon it. If the cut had been a little deeper it would
have spilt my hot blood indeed!" Fitzpiers examined so closely that his breath
touched her tenderly, at which their eyes rose to an encounter--hers showing
themselves as deep and mysterious as interstellar space. She turned her face
away suddenly. "Ah! none of that! none of that--I cannot coquet with you!" she
cried. "Don't suppose I consent to for one moment. Our poor, brief, youthful hour
of love-making was too long ago to bear continuing now. It is as well that we
should understand each other on that point before we go further."
"Coquet! Nor I with you. As it was when I found the historic gloves, so it is now. I
might have been and may be foolish; but I am no trifler. I naturally cannot forget
that little space in which I flitted across the field of your vision in those days of the
past, and the recollection opens up all sorts of imaginings."
"Suppose my mother had not taken me away?" she murmured, her dreamy eyes
resting on the swaying tip of a distant tree.
"I should have seen you again."