“My letters,” she repeated, “my letters!” And then, her quick intuition having told her all, “How could you do it? Oh, how could you do it?” she cried, the tears in her eyes and the quick sobs choking her speech. “It was you who sent me abroad to study! It is you to whom I am indebted for all: Josef, the Countess, my voice! Ah, you let a girl write her heart out to you, to flatter your—Oh, forgive me!” choking with the sobs which had become continuous, “forgive me!” she cried, as she laid her head on her arms by the corner of the chimney. “Forgive me!” she repeated. “I said once (you will remember, I wrote it, too) that I would try never to criticise you by word or thought. I want to be true to that, even now. Only,” she said, pressing her hand over her heart, “I hurt so! The pain makes me say things I would rather not say. Oh, I wonder if another man in all the world ever hurt a woman’s pride as you have hurt mine!”
“Katrine,” Frank said, “God knows I never intended to tell you! There was always the thought in my mind that you should never know, but you hurt me so, I forgot. Oh, Katrine, forgive me!”
“I am grateful,” she interrupted, in her hurried, generous way, “grateful for the kind thought for me; but I am angry, too, so angry that I don’t dare trust myself,” she smiled through her tears, the funny, heart-breaking smile. She gathered up her music. “Good-bye,” she said, “I shall try to go away in the morning.” And with no offer of handshaking she passed him, and he heard her softly close and lock the door of her sitting-room.
He knew she would keep her word, knew that the morning would take her from him, and the pain of hurt pride and wounded love goading him on, he covered the distance to the bolted door.
“Katrine!” he called.
Within he heard the noise of sobbing, of quick breaths choked with pain.
“Katrine Dulany!” he repeated, with tenderness.
“Yes!” she answered from within.
“I want to speak to you.”
There was no response.
“I must speak to you, Katrine.”
He waited, fearing her new contempt, until the silence became unendurable.
“Katrine,” he said, “you will either come out or I will come in.”
There was another silence before there came, at the end of the lower corridor, a great commotion of quick orders given and executed, of luggage being placed, and through it all a low singing as of one much at home. It would be an awkward situation, he thought, for the servants to find him clamoring at Miss Dulany’s door, and as he moved toward the window the singing grew nearer, breaking into a loud voice at the top of the steps,
“War dogs tattered and
Gnawing a naked bone,
Fighting in every clime
Every cause but our own,”
and Dermott the jaunty, the extremely elegant, in black riding-clothes, with the jewelled crop of North Carolina days, stood in the afternoon sunlight at the head of the great stairs.