The Legacy of Cain HTML version

26. Helena's Diary
The event of to-day began with the delivery of a message summoning me to my father's
study. He had decided--too hastily, as I feared--that he was sufficiently recovered to
resume his usual employments. I was writing to his dictation, when we were interrupted.
Maria announced a visit from Mr. Dunboyne.
Hitherto Philip had been content to send one of the servants of the hotel to make inquiry
after Mr. Gracedieu's health. Why had he now called personally? Noticing that father
seemed to be annoyed, I tried to make an opportunity of receiving Philip myself. "Let me
see him," I suggested; "I can easily say you are engaged."
Very unwillingly, as it was easy to see, my father declined to allow this. "Mr. Dunboyne's
visit pays me a compliment," he said; "and I must receive him." I made a show of leaving
the room, and was called back to my chair. "This is not a private interview, Helena; stay
where you are."
Philip came in--handsomer than ever, beautifully dressed--and paid his respects to my
father with his customary grace. He was too well-bred to allow any visible signs of
embarrassment to escape him. But when he shook hands with me, I felt a little trembling
in his fingers, through the delicate gloves which fitted him like a second skin. Was it the
true object of his visit to try the experiment designed by Eunice and himself, and deferred
by the postponement of our dinner-party? Impossible surely that my sister could have
practiced on his weakness, and persuaded him to return to his first love! I waited, in
breathless interest, for his next words. They were not worth listening to. Oh, the poor
commonplace creature!
"I am glad, Mr. Gracedieu, to see that you are well enough to be in your study again," he
said. The writing materials on the table attracted his attention. "Am I one of the idle
people," he asked, with his charming smile, "who are always interrupting useful
He spoke to my father, and he was answered by my father. Not once had he addressed a
word to me--no, not even when we shook hands. I was angry enough to force him into
taking some notice of me, and to make an attempt to confuse him at the same time.
"Have you seen my sister?" I asked.
It was the shortest reply that he could choose. Having flung it at me, he still persisted in
looking at my father and speaking to my father: "Do you think of trying change of air,
Mr. Gracedieu, when you feel strong enough to travel?"