“Then there is some one else,” she declared, “who knows everything—some one else, my man,” she added, leaning across the table and shaking her head with a sudden fierceness, “who can step into the witness box and tell the truth about you. You must find out who it is. You must find out who has stolen that money and get it back. I tell you I won’t have everything snatched away from me like this!” she cried, her voice breaking hysterically, “I won’t be robbed of life and happiness and everything that counts! I want my money. Are you going to get it back for me?”
“Beatrice, don’t be absurd,” he protested. “You know very well that I can’t do that. I am not in a position to go about making enquiries. I shall be watched from now, day and night, if nothing worse happens. A single step on my part in that direction would mean disaster.”
“Then take me straight to the town hall, or the registry office, or wherever you go here, and marry me,” she demanded. “A hundred pounds a week royalty, eh? Well, that’s good enough. I’ll marry you, Philip—do you hear?—at once. That’ll save your skin if it won’t get me back my twenty thousand pounds. You needn’t flatter yourself overmuch, either. I’d rather have had Douglas. He’s more of a man than you, after all. You are too self-conscious. You think about yourself too much. You’re too intellectual, too. I don’t want those things. I want to live! Any way, you’ve got to marry me—to-day. Now give me some money, do you hear?”
He took out his pocketbook and threw it towards her. She smoothed out the wad of notes which it contained and counted them with glistening eyes.
“Well, there’s enough here for a start,” she decided, slipping them into her bosom. “No one shall rob me of these before I get to the shops. Better come with me, Philip. I’m not going to leave you alone with her.”
Elizabeth would have intervened, but Philip laid his hand upon her arm.
“Beatrice,” he said sternly, “you are a little beside yourself. Listen. I don’t understand what has happened. I must think about it. Apparently that twenty thousand pounds has gone, but so far as regards money I recognise your claim. You shall have half my earnings. I’ll write more. I’ll make it up somehow. But for the rest, this morning has cleared away many misunderstandings. Let this be the last word. Miss Dalstan has promised to be my wife. She is the only woman I could ever love.”
“Then you’ll have to marry me without loving me,” Beatrice declared thickly. “I won’t be left alone in this beastly city! I want some one to take care of me. I am getting frightened. It’s uncanny—horrible! I—oh! I am so miserable—so miserable!”
She sank into a chair and fell forward across the table, sobbing hysterically.
“I hate every one!” she moaned. “Philip, why can’t you be kind to me! Why doesn’t some one care!”