She laid down her sandwich. For the first time her voice trembled. Granet realised that beneath all this quietness of demeanour a volcano was threatening.
“I have told you that I do not want to think of that night,” she said firmly. “I simply do not understand.”
“You have something in your mind?” he persisted. “You don’t believe, really, that that man Collins, who was found shot—”
She glanced at the door.
“I couldn’t sleep that night,” she interrupted. “I heard your car arrive, I saw you both together, you and the man who was shot. I saw—more than that. I hadn’t meant to tell you this but perhaps it is best. I ask you for no explanation. You see, I am something of an individualist. I just want one thing, and about the rest I simply don’t care. To me, to myself, to my own future, to my own happiness the rest is very slight, and I never pretend to be anything else but a very selfish person. Only you know now that I have lied, badly.”
“I understand,” he said. “Finish your sandwiches and I will take you to your aunt’s. To-morrow I will write to your father.”
She drew a little sigh.
“I will do whatever you say,” she agreed, “only—please look at me.”
He stooped down a little. She seized his wrists, her voice was suddenly hoarse.
“You weren’t pretending altogether?” she pleaded. “Don’t make me feel a perfect beast. You did care a little? You weren’t just talking nonsense?”
She would have drawn him further down but he kept away.
“Listen,” he said, “when I tell you that I am going to write to your father to-morrow, you know what that means. For the rest, I must think. Perhaps this is the only way out. Of course, I like you but the truth is best, isn’t it? I hadn’t any idea of this. As a matter of fact, I am rather in love with someone else.”
She caught at her breath for a moment, half closed her eyes as thought to shut out something disagreeable.
“I don’t care,” she muttered. “You see how low I have fallen—I’ll bear even that. Come,” she added, springing up, “my aunt goes to bed before eleven. You can drive me down there, if you like. Are you going to kiss me?”
He bent over her a little gravely and his lips touched her forehead. She caught his face suddenly between her hands and kissed him on the lips. Then she turned towards the door.
“Of course, I am horribly ashamed,” she exclaimed, “but then—well, I’m myself. Come along, please.”
He followed her down into the taxi and they drove off towards Kensington.
“How long have you known the other girl?” she asked abruptly.
“Very little longer than I have known you,” he answered.
She took off her glove. He felt her hand steal into his.