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.
She suddenly came to the conclusion one day that her husband was not looking well--a conclusion which was certainly well founded. She declared that a few days up the river was precisely what would restore him to robust health. (But here it is to be feared her judgment was in error.) He had been thinking too much about the new development of the mine and the property surrounding it at Taragonda Creek. What did his receiving a couple of hundred thousand pounds matter if his health were jeopardized, she inquired of him one day, wearing the anxious face of the Good Wife.
He had smiled that curious smile of his,--it was becoming more curious every day,--and had said:
"Up the river we shall go, and I'll get Phyllis to come with us to amuse you--you know that you like Phyllis," his wife cried.
"There is no one I like better than Phyllis," he had said.
And so the matter had been settled.