"I go on Tuesday--two days sooner."
The tone in which she spoke made him feel that she had said:
"What on earth shall I do during those dreary two days?" or else he had become singularly conceited.
But even if she had actually said those words they would not have made him feel unduly vain. He reflected upon the fact which he had more than once previously noticed--namely, that the girl, though wise as became a daughter of a Member of Parliament to be (considering that she had to prevent, or do her best to prevent, her father from making a fool of himself), was in many respects as innocent and as natural as a girl should be. She had only spoken naturally when she had said that she was glad he was to be of the riverside party--when she had implied by her tone that she was sorry that two whole days were bound to pass before he should arrive.
What was there in all that she had said, to make such a man as he vain --in all that she had implied? If she had been six years old instead of twenty-three, she would probably have told him that she loved him. The innocence of the child would have made her outspoken; but would his vanity have been fostered by the confession? It was the charming naturalness of the girl that had caused her to speak out what it was but natural she should feel. She and he had liked each other from the first, and it was quite natural that she should be glad to see him at Hurley.
That was what he thought as he strolled to his rooms preparatory to dressing for some function of the night. He flattered himself that he was able to look at any situation straight in the face, so to speak. He flattered himself that he was not a man to be led away by vanity. He was, as a rule, on very good terms with himself, but he was rather inclined to undervalue than overestimate the distinction which he enjoyed among his fellow-men. And the result of his due consideration of his last meeting with Phyllis was to make him feel that he had never met a girl who was quite so nice; but he also felt that, if he were to assume from the gladness which she had manifested not merely at being with him that day, but at the prospect of meeting him up the river, that he had made an impression upon her heart, he would be assuming too much.
But all the same, he could not help wishing that Ella had asked him to go to The Mooring on Tuesday rather than Thursday; and he felt when Tuesday arrived that the hot and dusty town with its ceaseless roll of gloomy festivities contained nothing for him that he would not willingly part withal in exchange for an hour or two beside the still waters of the Thames in the neighborhood of Hurley.
Stephen Linton had bought The Mooring when his wife had taken a fancy to it the previous year, when she had had an attack of that river fever which sooner or later takes hold upon Londoners, making them ready to sell all their possessions and encamp on the banks of the Thames. It had been a great delight to her to furnish that lovely old house according to her taste, making each room a picture of consistency in decoration and furniture, and it had been a great delight to her to watch the garden being laid out after the most perfect eighteenth-century pattern, with its green terraces and clipped hedges. She had gone so far as to live in the house for close upon a whole fortnight the previous autumn. Since that time the caretaker had found it a trifle too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer, he had complained to Mrs. Linton. But she knew that there is no pleasing caretakers; she had not been put out of favor with the place; she hoped to spend at least a week under its roof before the end of the season, and perhaps another week before starting for Scotland in the autumn.