Kathleen was seated at the dressing-table, arranging her hair, when Kennaston came again into her rooms. He went forward, and without speaking, laid one hand upon each shoulder.

Now for an instant their eyes met in the mirror; and the woman's face he saw there, or seemed to see there, yearned toward him, and was unutterably loving, and compassionate, and yet was resolute in its denial. For it denied him, no matter with what wist ful tenderness, or with what wonder at his folly. Just for a moment he seemed to see that; and then he doubted, for Kathleen's lips lifted complaisantly to his, and Kathleen's matter-of-fact face was just as he was used to seeing it.

And thus, with no word uttered, Felix Kennaston understood that his wife must disclaim any knowledge of the sigil of Scoteia, should he be bold enough to speak of it. He knew he would never dare speak of it in that constricted hide-bound kindly life whic h he and Kathleen shared in the flesh. To speak of it would mean to become forthwith what people glibly called insane. So Horvendile and Ettarre were parted for all time. And Kathleen willed this, no matter with what wistful tenderness, and becasue of motives which he would never know--for how could one tell what was going on inside that small round head his hand was caressing? Still, he could guess at her reasons; and he comprehended now that Ettarre had spoken a very terrible truth--"All men I mu st evade at the last, and innumerable are the ways of my elusion."

"Well, dear," he said aloud; "and was it a pleasant party?"

"Oh, so-so," Kathleen conceded; "but it was rather a mixed crowd. Hadn't you better hurry and change your clothes, Felix? It is almost dinnertime, and, you know, we have seats for the theater to-night."

Quite as if he, too, were thinking of trifles, Felix Kennaston took up the two bits of metal. "I have often wondered what this design meant," he said, idly--not looking at her, and hopeful that they were at least permitted this much of allusion to what they dared not speak of openly.

"Perhaps Mr. Harrowby could tell you." Kathleen also spoke as if with indifference--not looking at him, but into the mirror, and giving deft final touches to her hair.

"Eh--?" Kennaston smiled. "Oh, yes, Dick Harrowby, I grant you, has dabbled a bit in occult matters, but hardly deep enough, I fancy, to explain--this."

"At all events," Kathleen considered, "it is a quarter to seven already, and we have seats for the theater to-night."

He cleared his throat. "Shall I keep this, or you?"

"Why, for heaven's sake--! The thing is of no value now, Felix. Give it to me." She dropped the two pieces of metal into the waste-basket by the dressing-table, and rose impatiently. "Of course if you don't mean to change for dinner--"

He shrugged and gave it up.


So they dined alone together, sharing a taciturn meal, and duly witnessed the drolleries of The Gutta-Percha Girl. Kennaston's sleep afterward was sound and dreamless.

Chapter Thirty-Nine