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Well, After All--

211 pages
Library of Alexandria
It was an interesting scene, beyond doubt,” said Mr. Westwood, the senior partner in the Bracken-shire Bank of Westwood, Westwood, Barwell, & Westwood. “Yes, I felt more than once greatly interested in the course of the day.” “Greatly interested? Greatly interested?” said Cyril Mowbray, his second repetition of the words being a note or two higher than the first. “Greatly int——Oh, well, perhaps you had your own reasons for feeling interested in so trivial an incident as a run on your bank that might have made you a beggar in an hour or two. Yes, I shouldn't wonder if I myself would have had my interest aroused—to a certain extent—had I been in your place, Dick.” Mr. Westwood laughed with an excellent assumption of indifference, a minute or two after his friend had spoken. Cyril could not understand why he had not laughed at once; but that was probably because he had not been brought up as the senior partner in a banking business, or, for that matter, in any other business. “The fact is,” said Mr. Westwood thoughtfully, when his laugh had dwindled into a smile, as a breeze on the water dwindles into a cat's-paw, “the fact is, Cyril, my lad, I've always been more or less interested in observing men—men”—“And women—women,” said Cyril with a laugh. “You had a chance of observing a woman or two to-day, hadn't you? I noticed that Mrs. Lithgow—the little widow—among the crowd who clamoured for their money—yes, and that Miss Swanston—she was there too. She looked twenty years older than she is, even assuming that the estimate of her age made by the women in our neighbourhood is correct.” “Yes, I was always interested in observing my fellow-men,” said Mr. Westwood musingly. “I noticed those women to-day. They were worth it. Women always give themselves away upon such an occasion. Men seldom do.” “By George, Dick, there were some men in the crowd that filled the bank to-day who gave themselves away quite as badly as the women!” said Cyril. “No doubt; but some of them met me with smiles and made a remark or two regarding the extraordinary weather we have been having for May; they wondered if the good old-fashioned summers were gone for ever—some of them went so far as to express a sudden interest in my pheasants, before they came to business. But the women—they made no pretence—they wasted no time in preliminary chatter. 'My money—my money—give me my money!' was what each of them gasped. They showed their teeth like—like”—“Wolves?” “Vampires rather, man. Isn't it wonderful that a woman—a lady—can change her natural expression of calm—the repose that stamps the caste of Vere de Vere—to that of a Harpy in a moment? It makes one thoughtful, doesn't it? Which is the real woman, Cyril—the one who smiles pleasantly on you and insists on your taking another hot buttered muffin as you loll in one of her easy-chairs in front of her drawing-room fire, or the one who rushes trembling into your office and stretches out a lean talon-like gloveless hand, glaring at you all the time, with a cry—some shrill, others hoarse—of 'My money!—give me my money!'—which is the real woman?” “They are not two but one,” said Cyril. “Thunder and lightning are as natural as sunshine and zephyr. Revenge is as much a part of a woman's nature as love; constancy does not exclude jealousy. A woman is a rather complex piece of machinery, Dick.” “What! Has Lothario turned philosopher?” cried Mr. Westwood. “Has Mr. Cyril Mowbray become a student of woman in the abstract and an exponent of her nature?” “Mr. Cyril Mowbray isn't quite such a fool as to fancy that he knows anything about the nature of woman beyond what any man who keeps his eyes open may know; only, when he hears a cynic such as Dick Westwood suggest that a woman can't be sincere when she asks you to have another piece of toast—or was it cake?—because he has seen her anxious to get into her own hand her own money that is to keep her out of the workhouse, Mr. Cyril Mowbray ventures to make a remark.”