As Hermione spoke, suddenly she felt as if Gaspare, too, were going, perhaps, to drift from her. She looked at him with an almost sharp intensity which hardened her whole face. Was he, too, being insincere with her, he whom she trusted implicitly?
"Did you forget, Gaspare?" she said.
"Signora," he repeated, with a certain, almost ugly doggedness, "I was tired. Forgive me."
She felt sure that he had chosen deliberately not to come to her for the evening salutation. It was a trifle, yet to-night it hurt her. For a moment she was silent, and he was silent, looking down at the floor. Then she opened her lips to dismiss him. She intended to say a curt "Good-night"; but--no--she could not let Gaspare retreat from her behind impenetrable walls of obstinate reserve. And she did know his nature through and through. If he was odd to-night, unlike himself, there was some reason for it; and it could not be a reason that, known to her, would make her think badly of him. She was certain of that.
"Never mind, Gaspare," she said gently. "But I like you to come and say good-night to me. I am accustomed to that, and I miss it if you don't come."
"Si, Signora," he said, in a very low voice.
He turned a little away from her, and made a small noise with his nose as if he had a cold.
"Gaspare," she said, with an impulse to be frank, "I saw Ruffo to-night."