What did occur was not at all complicated. It would not have been possible fo_ woman to have spent her girlhood with the cleverest mother of her day an_ave emerged from her training either obstinate or illogical. Lady Lothwel_istened to as much of the history of Robin as her mother chose to tell he_nd plainly felt an amiable interest in it. She knew much more detail an_ossip concerning Mrs. Gareth-Lawless than the Duchess herself did. She ha_eard of the child who was kept out of sight, and she had been somewha_isgusted by a vague story of Lord Coombe's abnormal interest in it and th_gly hint that he had an object in view. It was too unpleasantly morbid to b_rue of a man her mother had known for years.
"Of course you were not thinking of anything large or formal?" she said afte_ moment of smiling hesitation.
"No. I am not launching a girl into society. I only want to help her to know _ew nice young people who are good-natured and well-mannered. She is not th_rdinary old lady's companion and if she were not so strict with herself an_ith me, I confess I should behave towards her very much as I should behave t_athryn if you could spare her to live with me. She is a heart-warming youn_hing. Because I am known to have one of my eccentric fancies for her an_ecause after all her father WAS well connected, her present position will no_e the obstacle. She is not the first modern girl who has chosen to suppor_erself."
"But isn't she much too pretty?"
"Much. But she doesn't flaunt it."
"But heart-warming—and too pretty! Dearest mamma!" Lady Lothwell laughe_gain. "She can do no harm to Kathryn, but I own that if George were not a_resent quite madly in love with a darling being at least fifteen years olde_han himself I should pause to reflect. Mrs. Stacy will keep him steady—Mrs.
Alan Stacy, you know—the one with the magnificent henna hair, and the eye_hat droop. No boy of twenty-two can resist her. They call her adorers 'Th_nfant School'."
"A small dinner and a small dance—and George and Kathryn may be the beginnin_f an interesting experiment. It would be pretty and kind of you to drop i_uring the course of the evening."
"Are you hoping to—perhaps—make a marriage for her?" Lady Lothwell asked th_uestion a shade disturbedly. "You are so amazing, mamma darling, that I kno_ou will do it, if you believe in it. You seem to be able to cause the thing_ou really want, to evolve from the universe."
"She is the kind of girl whose place in the universe is in the home of som_oung man whose own place in the universe is in the heart and soul and life o_er kind of girl. They ought to carry out the will of God by fallin_assionately in love with each other. They ought to marry each other and hav_ large number of children as beautiful and rapturously happy as themselves.
They would assist in the evolution of the race."
"Oh! Mamma! how delightful you always are! For a really brilliant woman yo_re the most adorable dreamer in the world."
"Dreams are the only things which are true. The rest are nothing but visions."
"Angel!" her daughter laughed a little adoringly as she kissed her. "I will d_hatever you want me to do. I always did, didn't I? It's your way of makin_ne see what you see when you are talking that does it."
It was understood before they parted that Kathryn and George would be presen_t the small dinner and the small dance, and that a few other agreeable youn_ersons might be trusted to join them, and that Lady Lothwell and perhaps he_usband would drop in.
"It's your being almost Early Victorian, mamma, which makes it easy for you t_nitiate things. You will initiate little Miss Lawless. It was rather neat o_er to prefer to drop the 'Gareth.' There has been less talk in late years o_he different classes 'keeping their places'—'upper' and 'lower' classe_eally strikes one as vulgar."
"We may 'keep our places'," the Duchess said. "We may hold on to them a_irmly as we please. It is the places themselves which are moving, my dear. I_s not unlike the beginning of a landslide."
Robin went to Dowie's room the next evening and stood a moment in silenc_atching her sewing before she spoke. She looked anxious and even pale.
"Her grace is going to give a party to some young people, Dowie," she said.
"She wishes me to be present. I—I don't know what to do."
"What you must do, my dear, is to put on your best evening frock and g_ownstairs and enjoy yourself as the other young people will. Her grace want_ou to see someone your own age," was Dowie's answer.
"But I am not like the others. I am only a girl earning her living as _ompanion. How do I know—"
"Her grace knows," Dowie said. "And what she asks you to do it is your duty t_o—and do it prettily."
Robin lost even a shade more colour.
"Do you realize that I have never been to a party in my life—not even to _hildren's party, Dowie? I shall not know how to behave myself."
"You know how to talk nicely to people, and you know how to sit down and ris_rom your chair and move about a room like a quiet young lady. You dance lik_ fairy. You won't be asked to do anything more."
"The Duchess," reflected Robin aloud slowly, "would not let me come downstair_f she did not know that people would—be kind."
"Lady Kathryn and Lord Halwyn are coming. They are her own grandchildren,"
"How did you know that?" Robin inquired.
Robin's colour began to come back.
"It's not what usually happens to girls in situations," she said.
"Her grace herself isn't what usually happens," said Dowie. "There is no on_ike her for high wisdom and kindness."
Having herself awakened to the truth of this confidence-inspiring fact, Robi_elt herself supported by it. One knew what far-sighted perception and clarit_f experienced vision this one woman had gained during her many years of life.
If she had elected to do this thing she had seen her path clear before her an_as not offering a gift which awkward chance might spoil or snatch away fro_he hand held out to receive it. A curious slow warmth began to creep abou_obin's heart and in its mounting gradually fill her being. It was true sh_ad been taught to dance, to move about and speak prettily. She had bee_aught a great many things which seemed to be very carefully instilled int_er mind and body without any special reason. She had not been aware that Lor_oombe and Mademoiselle Valle had directed and discussed her training as if i_ad been that of a young royal person whose equipment must be a flawles_hing. If the Dowager Duchess of Darte had wished to present her at Court som_air morning she would have known the length of the train she must wear, wher_he must make her curtseys and to whom and to what depth, how to kiss th_oyal hand, and how to manage her train when she retired from the presence.
When she had been taught this she had asked Mademoiselle Valle if the trainin_as part of every girl's education and Mademoiselle had answered,
"It is best to know everything—even ceremonials which may or may not prove o_se. It all forms part of a background and prevents one from feelin_nfamiliar with customs."
When she had passed the young pairs in the streets she had found an adde_nterest in them because of this background. She could imagine them dancin_ogether in fairy ball rooms whose lights and colours her imagination wa_bliged to construct for her out of its own fabric; she knew what the girl_ould look like if they went to a Drawing Room and she often wondered if the_ould feel shy when the page spread out their lovely peacock tails for the_nd left them to their own devices. It was mere Nature that she should hav_ondered and pondered and sometimes unconsciously longed to feel herself par_f the flood of being sweeping past her as she stood apart on the brink of th_iver.
The warmth about her heart made it beat a little faster. She opened the doo_f her wardrobe when she found herself in her bedroom. The dress hung modestl_n its corner shrouded from the penetration of London fogs by clean sheeting.
It was only white and as simple as she knew how to order it, but Mademoisell_ad taken her to a young French person who knew exactly what she was doing i_ll cases, and because the girl had the supple lines of a wood nymph and th_yes of young antelope she had evolved that which expressed her as a peta_xpresses its rose. Robin locked her door and took the dress down and foun_he silk stockings and slippers which belonged to it. She put them all o_tanding before her long mirror and having left no ungiven last touch she fel_ few steps backward and looked at herself, turning and balancing herself as _ird might have done. She turned lightly round and round.
"Yes. I AM—" she said. "I am—very!"
The next instant she laughed at herself outright.
"How silly! How silly!" she said. "Almost EVERYBODY is—more or less! I wonde_f I remember the new steps." For she had been taught the new steps—the ne_alking and swayings and pauses and sudden swirls and swoops. And her ne_ress was as short as other fashionable girls' dresses were, but in her cas_evealed a haunting delicacy of contour and line.
So before her mirror she danced alone and as she danced her lips parted an_er breast rose and fell charmingly, and her eyes lighted and glowed as an_irl's might have done or as a joyous girl nymph's might have lighted as sh_anced by a pool in her forest seeing her loveliness mirrored there.
Something was awakening as something had awakened when Donal had kissed _hild under the soot sprinkled London trees.