“He seems to have got hold of the idea all right, doesn’t he?” Philip muttered.
“Pooh!” she exclaimed encouragingly. “I know a little about the law—so do you. He hasn’t any proof—he never can have any proof. No one will ever be able to swear that the body which they picked out of the canal was the body of Douglas Romilly. There wasn’t a soul who saw you do it. I am the only person in the world who could supply the motive, and I—I shall never be any use to them. Don’t you see, Philip?... I shall be your wife! A wife can’t give evidence against her husband! You’ll be safe, dear—quite safe.”
He withdrew a little from her embrace.
“Beatrice,” he reminded her, “there is another tragedy beyond the one with which Dane threatens us. I do not wish to marry you.”
She suddenly blazed up.
“Not because of any reason in the world,” he interrupted, “except that I love Elizabeth Dalstan.”
“Does she want to marry you?”
He was suddenly an altered person. Some of his confidence seemed to desert him. He shook his head doubtfully.
“I am not sure. Sometimes I think that she would. Sometimes I fancy that it is only a great kindness of heart, an immense sympathy, a kind of protective sympathy, which has made her so good to me.”
She looked at herself steadily for a moment in the mirror. Then she pulled down her veil.
“Philip,” she said, “we find out the truth when we are up against things like this. I used to think I could live alone. I can’t. Whatever you may think of me, I was fond of Douglas. It wasn’t only for the sake of the money and the comfort. He was kind, and in his way he understood. And then, you know, misery didn’t agree with you. You were often, even in those few hours we spent together, very hard and cold. Anyway,” she added, with a little tightening of the lips, “I am going to get my money now. No one can stop that. You stay here and think it over. It would be better to marry me, Philip, and be safe, than to have the fear of that man Dane always before you. And wait—wait till you see me when I come back!” she went on, her spirits rapidly rising as she moved towards the door. “You’ll change your mind then, Philip. You were always so impressionable, weren’t you? A little touch of colour, the perfume of flowers, a single soft word spoken at the right moment—anything that took your fancy made such a difference. Well—just wait till I come back!”
She closed the door. Philip heard her descend in the lift. He moved to the window and watched for her on the pavement. She appeared there in a moment or two and waited whilst the boy whistled for a taxicab, her face expectantly upraised, one hand resting lightly on her bosom, just over the spot where her pocketbook lay.
Philip was still gazing into vacancy and smoking cigarettes when Elizabeth arrived. She seemed conscious at once of the disturbed atmosphere. His hands, which she held firmly in hers, were as cold as ice.