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The fact that she would be late in keeping her engagement with William was not
the only reason which sent Katharine almost at racing speed along the Strand in
the direction of his rooms. Punctuality might have been achieved by taking a cab,
had she not wished the open air to fan into flame the glow kindled by Mary's
words. For among all the impressions of the evening's talk one was of the nature
of a revelation and subdued the rest to insignificance. Thus one looked; thus one
spoke; such was love.
"She sat up straight and looked at me, and then she said, 'I'm in love,'" Katharine
mused, trying to set the whole scene in motion. It was a scene to dwell on with so
much wonder that not a grain of pity occurred to her; it was a flame blazing
suddenly in the dark; by its light Katharine perceived far too vividly for her
comfort the mediocrity, indeed the entirely fictitious character of her own feelings
so far as they pretended to correspond with Mary's feelings. She made up her
mind to act instantly upon the knowledge thus gained, and cast her mind in
amazement back to the scene upon the heath, when she had yielded, heaven
knows why, for reasons which seemed now imperceptible. So in broad daylight
one might revisit the place where one has groped and turned and succumbed to
utter bewilderment in a fog.
"It's all so simple," she said to herself. "There can't be any doubt. I've only got to
speak now. I've only got to speak," she went on saying, in time to her own
footsteps, and completely forgot Mary Datchet.
William Rodney, having come back earlier from the office than he expected, sat
down to pick out the melodies in "The Magic Flute" upon the piano. Katharine
was late, but that was nothing new, and, as she had no particular liking for music,
and he felt in the mood for it, perhaps it was as well. This defect in Katharine was
the more strange, William reflected, because, as a rule, the women of her family
were unusually musical. Her cousin, Cassandra Otway, for example, had a very
fine taste in music, and he had charming recollections of her in a light fantastic
attitude, playing the flute in the morning-room at Stogdon House. He recalled
with pleasure the amusing way in which her nose, long like all the Otway noses,
seemed to extend itself into the flute, as if she were some inimitably graceful
species of musical mole. The little picture suggested very happily her melodious
and whimsical temperament. The enthusiasms of a young girl of distinguished
upbringing appealed to William, and suggested a thousand ways in which, with
his training and accomplishments, he could be of service to her. She ought to be
given the chance of hearing good music, as it is played by those who have
inherited the great tradition. Moreover, from one or two remarks let fall in the
course of conversation, he thought it possible that she had what Katharine
professed to lack, a passionate, if untaught, appreciation of literature. He had lent
her his play. Meanwhile, as Katharine was certain to be late, and "The Magic
Flute" is nothing without a voice, he felt inclined to spend the time of waiting in
writing a letter to Cassandra, exhorting her to read Pope in preference to
Dostoevsky, until her feeling for form was more highly developed. He set himself