“I think I can read,” her own bitterness getting the better of her tongue. “Miss Killigrew has declined.”
“You have been listening?” with a snarl.
“It has not been necessary to listen; I needed only to watch.”
“Well, what is it to you?”
“Take care, Karl! You can not talk to me like that.”
“Don’t drive me, then. Oh,” with a sudden turn of mind, “I am sorry that you can not understand.”
“If I hadn’t I should never have given you my promise not to speak. There was a time when you had right on your side, but that time ceased to be when you lied to me. How little you understood me! Had you spoken frankly and generously at the start, God knows I shouldn’t have refused you. But you set out to walk over my heart to get that miserable slip of paper. Ah! had I but known! I say to you, you will fail utterly and miserably. You are either blind or mad!”
Without a word in reply to this prophecy he turned and left her; and as soon as he had vanished she kissed the spot on the rail where his hand had rested and laid her own there. When at last she raised it, the rail was no longer merely damp, it was wet.
“Now there,” began Fitzgerald, taking M. Ferraud firmly by the sleeve, “I have come to the end of my patience. What has Breitmann to do with all this business?”
“Will you permit me to polish my spectacles?” mildly asked M. Ferraud.
“It’s the deuce of a job to get you into a corner,” Fitzgerald declared. “But I have your promise, and you should recollect that I know things which might interest Mr. Breitmann.”
“Croyez-vous qu’il pleuve? Il fait bien du vent,” adjusting his spectacles and viewing the clear sky and the serene bosom of the Mediterranean. Then M. Ferraud turned round with: “Ah, Mr. Fitzgerald, this man Breitmann is what you call ‘poor devil,’ is it not? At dinner to-night I shall tell a story, at once marvelous past belief and pathetic. I shall tell this story against my best convictions because I wish him no harm, because I should like to save him from black ruin. But, attend me; my efforts shall be as wind blowing upon stone; and I shall not save him. An alienist would tell you better than I can. Listen. You have watched him, have you not? To you he seems like any other man? Yes? Keen-witted, gifted, a bit of a musician, a good deal of a scholar? Well, had I found that paper first, there would have been no treasure hunt. I should have torn it into one thousand pieces; I should have saved him in spite of himself and have done my duty also. He is mad, mad as a whirlwind, as a tempest, as a fire, as a sandstorm.”
And the wiry little man released himself and bustled away to his chair where he became buried in rugs and magazines.