"When one is an old man one likes to sit, one cannot be forever running to and fro. One gets tired, I suppose."
There was marked satire in the accent with which he said the last words. And the shrug of his shoulders was an almost audible "What can I know of that?"
"Monsieur Emile writes because he has a great brain, not because he has a tired body," said Vere, with sudden warmth.
Her mother was looking at her earnestly.
"Oh, Signorina, I do not mean-- But for a man to be always shut up," began the Marchesino, "it is not life."
"You don't understand, Marchese. One can live in a little room with the door shut as one can never live--"
Abruptly she stopped. A flush ran over her face and down to her neck. Hermione turned away her eyes. But they had read Vere's secret. She knew what her child was doing in those hours of seclusion. And she remembered her own passionate attempts to stave off despair by work. She remembered her own failure.
"Poor little Vere!" That was her first thought. "But what is Emile doing?" That was the second. He had discouraged her. He had told her the truth. What was he telling Vere? A flood of bitter curiosity seemed to rise in her, drowning many things.