"Thank the Lord!" said one of the men, with genuine piety.
In three-quarters of an hour the members of the quest party returned. They had been fully rewarded for their trouble; they had been listening to the nightingale for nearly twenty minutes, they said; it had been very lovely, they agreed, without a single dissentient voice. It probably was; at any rate they were very silent for the rest of the night.
"You have begun well," said Ella to Herbert, when they found themselves together in the drawing room, later on, shortly before midnight. Someone was playing on the piano, so that the general conversation and yawning were not interfered with. "You have begun well. You will soon get to know her if your others days here are like to-day. That nightingale! Oh, yes, you will soon get to know her."
"I doubt it," said he, in a low tone. His eyes were turned in the direction of Phyllis. She was on a seat at an open window, the twilight of moonlight and lamplight glimmering about her hair. "I doubt it. It takes a man such as I am a long time to know such a girl as Phyllis Ayrton."
That was a saying which had a certain amount of irritation for Ella. He had never said anything in the past about her, Ella, being beyond the knowledge of ordinary men.
"That's a very good beginning," said she, with a little laugh that meant much. "But don't despair. After all, girls are pretty much alike. I was a girl once--it seems a long time ago. I thought then that I knew a great deal about men. Alas! all that I have learned since is simply that they know a great deal about me. Am I different from other women, I wonder? Am I more shallow--more transparent? Was I ever an enigma to you, Bertie?"
"You were always a woman," he said. "That is why----"
"That is why I am here to-night. If you were not a true woman I should be far away."