“Then why is she going to marry you? Isn’t marriage a union of love and hearts? Oh, Johnny, I am anxious, very anxious. I hate it, this loveless marriage—”
“But I love her!” he said reverently.
“Do you—can you go on loving her? Can you? Your own heart starved, can you continue to love and give again and again? No, no, I know better—the time will come when you will realise you have married a cold and beautiful statue, and your heart will wither and shrivel within you, Johnny.”
“Con, in time I will make her care for me a little.”
“She never will!”
Connie looked out of the window. “Johnny, dear, if I am saying something that will hurt you, will you forgive me?—knowing that I love you so dearly, that all I want to see is your happiness, that I hate to see you imposed on, made a fool of, made a convenience of!”
“Connie, what do you mean?”
“I mean that I believe that Joan Meredyth will never love you, because all the heart she has to give has been given to someone else.”
“You have no right to say that. What do you know? What can you know?”
“I know nothing. I can only guess. I can only stumble and grope in the dark. Think! That woman, lovely, sweet, brilliant, could she accept all that you offer her and give nothing in return if she were heart-free? Wouldn’t your love for her appeal to her, touch her, force some tenderness in response? Oh, I have watched her. I have seen, and I have guessed what I know must—must be true. For she is all woman; she is no cold icicle, but you have not touched her heart, Johnny, and you never will, and so—so, my dear,” Connie’s voice choked with a sob, “you’ll hate me for this—Johnny!”
He went to her, put his arm about her, and held her tightly and kissed her.
“To prove my hate, dear,” he whispered, and then he went out with a very thoughtful look on his face.
In the yard he saw Ellice.
“Gipsy girl,” he said, “come with me. Let’s go out—anywhere in the car for a ride—it doesn’t matter where. Come with me!”
Her face flushed, then paled.
“No thank you!” she said coldly. “I am busy doing something for Joan.”
Johnny sighed with disappointment, there was pain in his eyes too. In the old days she would not have refused; she would have come gladly.
“My little Gipsy girl is against me too!” He walked away slowly and dejectedly, and the girl watched him. She lifted her hands and pressed them hard against her breast, and then—then Johnny heard the light fall of swift-moving feet. He felt a clutch on his arm, and turned. He saw a flushed face, bright eyes were looking into his.
“If—if you want me to, I’ll come,” she said. “I’ll come with you—anywhere!”
He did not answer. His hands had dropped on to her shoulders; he stood there holding her and looking into her face, glowing with a beauty that he had never seen in it before, and in his eyes was still that puzzled look, the look of a man who does not quite understand.