“Why do you come here? Why do you come to tell me this, Gipsy?” He had risen, he stood looking at her—such a little thing, so graceful, so lovely with the colour in her cheeks, the light in her eyes, the light of her fine generosity. “Gipsy—” He became silent; looking at her, strange thoughts came—wild, impossible thoughts, thoughts that come when dreams end and one is face to face with reality. So many years he had known her, she had been part and parcel of his life, his everyday companion, yet it seemed to him that he had never known her till now—the fineness, the goodness of her, the beauty of her too, the womanliness of this child.
“I came here to tell you, Johnny, because you let yourself doubt,” she said. “I heard you moving about the room restlessly, and that is not like you. Usually you sit here and smoke your pipe and think or read your paper. You never rise and move about the room as to-night.”
“How do you know?”
She laughed shortly. “I know—everything,” she said. “I listen to you night after night. I always have for years. I have heard you come up and go to your room, always. I always wait for that!”
“Gipsy, why—why should you?”
“Because,” she said—“because—” And then she said no more, and would have turned away, her errand done, but that he hastened to her and caught her by the hand.
“Gipsy, wait. Don’t go. Why did you come to tell me this of Joan to-night?”
“Because since you have asked her to be your wife, you belong to her, and you should not doubt her. She is above doubt—she could not be as some women, underhand and treacherous, deceitful. That would not be Joan Meredyth.”
“And yet you do not like her, dear. Why not?”
“I can’t—tell you.” She tried to wrench her hand free, yet he held it strongly, and looked down into her eyes.
What did he see there? What tale did they in their honesty tell him, that hers lips must never utter? Was he less blind at this moment than ever before in his life? Johnny Everard never rightly understood.
“Good night,” he said, “Gipsy, good night,” and would have drawn her to him to kiss her—as usual, but she resisted.
“Please, please don’t!” she said, and looked at him.
Her lips were quivering, there was a glorious flush in her cheeks; and in her eyes, a kind of fear. So he let her go, and opened the door for her and stood listening to the soft swish of her draperies as she sped up the dark stairs.
Then very slowly Johnny Everard came back to his chair. He picked up his pipe and stared at it, yet did not see it. He saw a pair of eyes that seemed to burn into his, eyes that had betrayed to him at last the secret of her heart.
“I didn’t know—I didn’t know,” Johnny Everard said brokenly. “I didn’t know, and oh, my God! I am not worthy of that! I am not worthy of that!”