“You want me to marry you?” he demanded—“simply marry you? You do not care whether I have any love for you or whether I loathe you now.”
“You couldn’t loathe me, could you?” she begged. “The thought of those long days we spent together in our prison house would rise up and forbid it. Kiss me.”
“I will not!”
Her lips sought his, in vain. He pushed her away.
“Don’t you understand?” he exclaimed. “There is another woman whom I have kissed—whom I am longing to kiss now.”
“But we are old friends,” she pleaded, “and I am lonely. Kiss me how you like. Don’t be foolish.”
He kissed her upon the cheek. She pulled down her veil. The cab had stopped before the door of her hotel.
“You are not to worry any more about ugly things, Philip,” she whispered, holding his hand for a moment as he rang the bell for her. “You are safe, remember—quite safe. I’ve come to take care of you. You need it so badly.... Good night, dear!”
Late though it was when Philip reached his rooms, he found on his writing table a message addressed to him from the telephone call office in the building. He tore it open:
“Kindly ring up Number 551 Avenue immediately you return, whatever the time.”
He glanced at the clock, hesitated, and finally approaching the instrument called up Elizabeth’s number. For a few moments he waited. The silence in the streets outside seemed somehow to have become communicated to the line, the space between them emptied of all the jarring sounds of the day. It was across a deep gulf of silence that he heard at last her voice.
“Yes? Is that you, Philip?”
“I am here,” he answered. “I am sorry it is so late.”
“Have you only just come in?”
“Has that girl kept you out till now?” she asked reprovingly.
“I couldn’t help it,” he replied. “It was her first night over here. I took her to Churchill’s for supper.”
“Is everything—all right with her? She doesn’t mean to make trouble?”
The unconscious irony of the question almost forced a smile to his lips.
“I don’t think so,” he answered. “She is thoroughly excited at the idea of possessing the money. I believe she thought that Douglas would have drawn it all. She is going straight to the bank, early in the morning, to get hold of it.”
“What about the man Dane?”
“He has gone to Chicago. He won’t be back for several days.”
There was a moment’s pause.
“Have you anything to ask me?” she enquired.
“I have had the most extraordinary letter from Sylvanus. You and he have met.”
“Yes,” he admitted.
“Philip, we must make up our minds.”
“You mean that you must make up your mind,” he answered gently.