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Dont think about your heart, think about hers, said Claudia, putting her hand on his shoulder. He looked very dejected and some of the youth had gone out of his face. The contented, well-fed expression was flecked with something closely resembling unhappiness. She is not likely to live for many years, and lets try and make the best of it for her, Jacky boy.

Claudia, my dearest, say something to me.

Claudia took him quite seriously, for happiness, just as sorrow, may temporarily obscure a sense of humour. I forbid you to say such things of yourself, she said, with an engaging air of motherliness. Youre awfully cleverawfully clever. Why, you are one of the best-read[60] and best-informed men in London. Suddenly she realized how often she had turned to him for information or advice. And she could never remember an occasion on which he had failed her, or an opinion that her critical faculty on reflection deemed unsound.

The breach between Claudia and Gilbert had not been lessened by Jacks msalliance. Gilbert writhed under the publicity, and though he knew it was a nine-days wonder and would soon evaporate, he was infuriated with the house of Iverson and the offspring of Circe. A letter[153] from his mother, quite illogical and trying to make him appear responsible for the marriage, made him more irritable. His reply to it was dignified, pointing out her untenable positionthe attitude of a strong man towards women must be maintained, even with a motherbut he felt the sting of it all the same. His father, whom he met the next day, was not illogical, but there was an atmosphere of chilliness and silence on the subject which was probably more unpleasant to him than his mothers letter. A comic paper came out with a cartoon showing him giving advice on her contracts to The Girlie Girl. In view of it all, Claudias attitude was the worst of all. She took up Jacks own attitude, that he was at liberty to do as he pleased with his life. She was logical and perfectly calm during their discussions, and Gilbert, to his great disgust, found himself forced into becoming illogical, which is enough to exasperate any lawyer, even a briefless one.

Then Gilbert, who, like most Englishmen, felt rather uncomfortable at the sentimental vein into which they had fallen, poured himself out a whisky and soda, and the prosaic hiss of the syphon dispelled the ghost.

At that instant Jack came in at the door, which was wide open.

Punctually at half-past onethe clock was strikingLady Currey arrived. Mrs. Iverson was not down yet, but she was never punctual, except when her clock was fast. Claudia had to receive Gilberts mother.