’No, let us stay here. I must go to bed early, as I have a tiring day before me tomorrow.’
‘What are you going to do?’ he asked.
‘Nothing of any importance,’ she laughed.
Presently the diners began to go in little groups, and Margaret suggested that they should saunter towards the Madeleine. The night was fine, but rather cold, and the broad avenue was crowded. Margaret watched the people. It was no less amusing than a play. In a little while, they took a cab and drove through the streets, silent already, that led to the quarter of the Montparnasse. They sat in silence, and Margaret nestled close to Arthur. He put his arm around her waist. In the shut cab that faint, oriental odour rose again to his nostrils, and his head reeled as it had before dinner.
‘You’ve made me very happy, Margaret,’ he whispered. ’I feel that, however long I live, I shall never have a happier day than this.’
‘Do you love me very much?’ she asked, lightly.
He did not answer, but took her face in his hands and kissed her passionately. They arrived at Margaret’s house, and she tripped up to the door. She held out her hand to him, smiling.
’It’s dreadful to think that I must spend a dozen hours without seeing you. When may I come?’
‘Not in the morning, because I shall be too busy. Come at twelve.’
She remembered that her train started exactly at that hour. The door was opened, and with a little wave of the hand she disappeared.
Susie stared without comprehension at the note that announced Margaret’s marriage. It was a petit bleu sent off from the Gare du Nord, and ran as follows:
When you receive this I shall be on my way to London. I was married to Oliver Haddo this morning. I love him as I never loved Arthur. I have acted in this manner because I thought I had gone too far with Arthur to make an explanation possible. Please tell him.
Susie was filled with dismay. She did not know what to do nor what to think. There was a knock at the door, and she knew it must be Arthur, for he was expected at midday. She decided quickly that it was impossible to break the news to him then and there. It was needful first to find out all manner of things, and besides, it was incredible. Making up her mind, she opened the door.
‘Oh, I’m so sorry Margaret isn’t here,’ she said. ’A friend of hers is ill and sent for her suddenly.’
‘What a bore!’ answered Arthur. ‘Mrs Bloomfield as usual, I suppose?’
‘Oh, you know she’s been ill?’
‘Margaret has spent nearly every afternoon with her for some days.’
Susie did not answer. This was the first she had heard of Mrs Bloomfield’s illness, and it was news that Margaret was in the habit of visiting her. But her chief object at this moment was to get rid of Arthur.