Mrs. Trenor evidently assumed that Lily’s growing intimacy with her husband was simply an indirect way of returning her own kindness.
An impulse of curiosity made him turn out of his direct line to the door, and stroll past her.
She decided that directness would be best.
"Oh—" broke from her with a movement of instinctive resistance; but he insisted: "Come—it’s late, and you must appear to have gone there directly."
But for the moment she was drawn out of herself by the interest of her direct relation with a world so unlike her own.
Reaching town, he was driven direct to his club, where he hoped a note from Miss Bart might await him.
Lawrence Selden was in fact seated at its farther end; but though a book lay on his knee, his attention was not engaged with it, but directed to a lady whose lace-clad figure, as she leaned back in an adjoining chair, detached itself with exaggerated slimness against the dusky leather upholstery.
It was the first time she had received a direct communication from Bellomont since the close of her last visit there, and she was still visited by the dread of having incurred Judy’s displeasure.
The collapse of Trenor’s will left her in control, and she heard herself, in a voice that was her own yet outside herself, bidding him ring for the servant, bidding him give the order for a hansom, directing him to put her in it when it came.
If Lily’s poetic enjoyment of the moment was undisturbed by the base thought that her gown and opera cloak had been indirectly paid for by Gus Trenor, the latter had not sufficient poetry in his composition to lose sight of these prosaic facts.
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The Peniston side was, in fact, secure in the knowledge that the bulk of Mr. Peniston’s property "went back"; while the direct connection hung suspended on the disposal of his widow’s private fortune and on the uncertainty of its extent.
But Lily, ignoring the invitation, as well as Jack Stepney’s official attempt to direct her, moved across the room with her smooth free gait, and seated herself in a chair which seemed to have been purposely placed apart from the others.
When, the afternoon before, she had presented herself to the lady to whom Carry Fisher had directed her, she had been conscious of entering a new world.
Selden met the challenge with directness.
Gerty checked herself in evident embarrassment, and Miss Bart turned to her with a direct look.
But to this direct appeal it was impossible to give an assent; and she said with friendly decisiveness: "I’m sorry—but you know why I can’t."
She spoke with the noble directness which she could command on such occasions, and which was like a large steady light thrown across the tortuous darkness of the situation.
The implication that such loyalty would meet with a direct reward had hastened her flight, and flung her back, ashamed and penitent, on the broad bosom of Gerty’s sympathy.
She had come to him with no definite purpose; the mere longing to see him had directed her; but the secret hope she had carried with her suddenly revealed itself in its death-pang.
Her sense of irony never quite deserted her, and she could still note, with self-directed derision, the abnormal value suddenly acquired by the most tiresome and insignificant details of her former life.
She continued silent under the rush of astonishment that his words produced, and he moved a step closer to ask with low-toned directness: "Why don’t you use those letters of hers you bought last year?"
But, after all, it was the life she had been made for: every dawning tendency in her had been carefully directed toward it, all her interests and activities had been taught to centre around it.
To hear that she was in need of help—even such vague help as he could offer—was to be at once repossessed by that thought; and by the time he reached the street he had sufficiently convinced himself of the urgency of his cousin’s appeal to turn his steps directly toward Lily’s hotel.
Mrs. Fisher was not a woman who talked of herself without cause, and the practice of direct speech, far from precluding in her an occasional resort to circuitous methods, served rather, at crucial moments, the purpose of the juggler’s chatter while he shifts the contents of his sleeves.
The Dorset place was in the immediate neighbourhood of the Gormers’ newly-acquired estate, and in her motor-flights thither with Mrs. Gormer, Lily had caught one or two passing glimpses of the couple; but they moved in so different an orbit that she had not considered the possibility of a direct encounter.
Mrs. Fisher was full of indirect expedients for enabling her friends to earn a living, and could conscientiously assert that she had put several opportunities of this kind before Lily; but more legitimate methods of bread-winning were as much out of her line as they were beyond the capacity of the sufferers she was generally called upon to assist.
Mrs. Fisher, too, appearing frequently in the neighbourhood, drove over to impart her experiences and give Lily what she called the latest report from the weather-bureau; and the latter, who had never directly invited her confidence, could yet talk with her more freely than with Gerty Farish, in whose presence it was impossible even to admit the existence of much that Mrs. Fisher conveniently took for granted.
He paused long enough to draw breath, but not to give her time for the expression of her gathering resistance; and as he pressed on, expounding and elucidating his idea with the directness of the man who has no doubts of his cause, she found the indignation gradually freezing on her lip, found herself held fast in the grasp of his argument by the mere cold strength of its presentation.
Shall we walk a bit?" he began, putting the second question before the first was answered, and not waiting for a reply to either before he directed her silently toward the comparative seclusion of the lower gardens.
Miss Bart protested, drawing back from her penitent clasp; but Mrs. Fisher went on with her usual directness: "Look here, Lily, don’t let’s beat about the bush: half the trouble in life is caused by pretending there isn’t any.