She was crying now, her head in her hands, and the bronze-red hair dishevelled, sagging between her long, white fingers.
He remained aloof, knowing her, and always afraid of her and of himself together—a very deadly combination for mischief. And she remained bowed in the attitude of despair, her lithe young body shaken.
His was naturally a lightly irresponsible disposition, and it came very easily for him to console beauty in distress—or out of it, for that matter. Why he was now so fastidious with his conscience in regard to Mrs. Clydesdale he himself scarcely understood, except that he had once asked her to marry him; and that he knew her husband. These two facts seemed to keep him steady. Also, he rather liked her burly husband; and he had almost recovered from the very real pangs which had pierced him when she suddenly flung him over and married Clydesdale's millions.
One of the logs had burned out. He rose to replace it with another. When he returned to the sofa, she looked up at him so pitifully that he bent over and caressed her hair. And she put one arm around his neck, crying, uncomforted.
"It won't do," he said; "it won't do. And you know it won't, don't you? This whole business is dead wrong—dead rotten. But you mustn't cry, do you hear? Don't be frightened. If there's trouble, I'll stand by you, of course. Hush, dear, the house is full of servants. Loosen your arms, Elena! It isn't a square deal to your husband—or to you, or even to me. Unless people have an even chance with me—men or women—there's nothing dangerous about me. I never dealt with any man whose eyes were not wide open—nor with any woman, either. Cary's are shut; yours are blinded."