‘Don’t say any more, Ted,’ she begged him, fingering her sash. ’I know all that. I know it all, and everything else you can say. Oh, my darling boy! do you think I would look down on you ever so little because of—what you told me? Who am I? I wouldn’t care twopence even if——’
‘But it’s between us all the same,’ he broke in. ’You can’t get over it.’
‘Get over it!’ she repeated lamely.
‘Can you? Have you?’ He pinned her to a direct answer.
She did not flinch.
‘No,’ she said.
‘I thought you would have done,’ he remarked, half to himself. ’I thought you would. I thought you were enough a woman of the world for that, May. It isn’t as if the confounded thing had made any real difference to your father. The old man died, and——’
‘Ted!’ she exclaimed, ’I shall have to tell you, after all. It killed him.’
‘What killed him? He died of gastritis.’
’He was ill with gastritis, but he died of suicide. It’s easy for a gastritis patient to commit suicide. And father did.’
’Oh, ruin, despair! He’d been in difficulties for a long time. He said that selling those shares just one day too soon was the end of it. When he saw them going up day after day, it got on his mind. He said he knew he would never, never have any luck. And then ...’
‘You kept it quiet.’ He was walking about the room.
‘Yes, that was pretty easy.’
‘And did your mother know?’
He turned and looked at her.
‘Yes, mother knew. It finished her. Oh, Ted!’ she burst out, ’if you’d only telegraphed to him the next morning that the shares weren’t sold, things might have been quite different.’
‘You mean I killed your father—and your mother.’
‘No, I don’t,’ she cried passionately. ’I tell you I don’t. You didn’t know. But I think of it all, sometimes. And that’s why—that’s why——’
She sat down again.
‘By God, May,’ he swore, ‘I’m frightfully sorry!’
‘I never meant to tell you,’ she said, composing herself. ’But, there! things slip out. Good-night.’
She was gone, but in passing him she had timidly caressed his shoulder.
‘It’s all up,’ he said to himself. ’This will always be between us. No one could expect her to forget it.’
Gradually her characteristic habits deserted her; she seemed to lose energy and a part of her interest in those things which had occupied her most. She changed her dress less frequently, ignoring dressmakers, and she showed no longer the ravishing elegance of the bride. She often lay in bed till noon, she who had always entered the dining-room at nine o’clock precisely to dispense his coffee and listen to his remarks on the contents of the newspaper. She said ‘As you please’ to the cook, and the meals began to lose their piquancy. She paid