AT Mrs Cosgrove's, this Sunday afternoon, Monica had eyes and thoughts for one person only. Her coming at all was practically an appointment to meet Bevis, whom she had seen twice since her visit to the flat. A day or two after that occasion, she received a call from the Bevis girls, who told her of their brother's approaching departure for Bordeaux, and thereupon she invited the trio to dine with her. A fortnight subsequently to the dinner, she had a chance encounter with Bevis in Oxford Street; constraint of business did not allow him to walk beside her for more than a minute or two, but they spoke of Mrs Cosgrove's on the following Sunday, and there, accordingly, found each other.
Tremor of self-consciousness kept Monica in dread of being watched and suspected. Few people were present to-day, and after exchanging formal words with Bevis, she moved away to talk with the hostess. Not till half an hour had passed did she venture to obey the glances which her all but avowed lover cast towards her, and to take a seat where he could naturally engage her in conversation. He was so much at ease, so like what she had always known him, that Monica asked herself whether she had not mistaken the meaning of his homage. One moment she hoped it might be so; the next, she longed for some sign of passionate devotion, and thought with anguish of the day, now so near, when he would be gone for ever. This, she ardently believed, was the man who should have been her husband. Him she could love with heart and soul, could make his will her absolute law, could live on his smiles, could devote herself to his interests. The independence she had been struggling to assert ever since her marriage meant only freedom to love. If she had understood herself as she now did, her life would never have been thus cast into bondage.
'The girls,' Bevis was saying, 'leave on Thursday. The rest of the week I shall be alone. On Monday the furniture will be stowed away at the Pantechnicon,* and on Tuesday--off I go.'
A casual listener could have supposed that the prospect pleased him. Monica, with a fixed smile, looked at the other groups conversing in the room; no one was paying any attention to her. In the same