“Shut up!” said Jack.
He laughed as he drained his glass of cognac, and then settled back in his seat with a moody expression. His thoughts were not pleasant ones. Since the early part of the year he and his wife had been gradually drifting apart, and even when they were together at theatres or luxurious cafes, spending money like water, there had been a restraint between them. Of late Diane’s fits of temper had become more frequent, and only yielded to a handful of gold or notes. Jack had sought his own amusements and left her much alone—more than was good for her, he now reflected uneasily. Yet he had the utmost confidence in her still, and not a shadow of suspicion had crossed his mind. He believed that his honor was safe in her care.
“I have wished a thousand times that I had never married,” he said to himself, “but it is too late for that now. I must make the best of it. I still love Diane, and I don’t believe she has ceased to care for me. Poor little girl! Perhaps she feels my neglect, and is too proud to own it. I was ready enough to cut work and spend money. Yes, it has been my fault. I’ll go to her to-night and tell her that. I’ll ask her to move back to our old lodgings, where we were so happy. And then I’ll turn over that new leaf—”
“What’s wrong with you, my boy?” broke in Victor Nevill. “Have you been dreaming?”
“I am going home,” said Jack, rising. “It will be a pleasant surprise for Diane.”
Nevill looked at him curiously, then laughed. He took out his watch.
“Have another drink,” he urged. “We part to-night—who knows when we will meet again? And it is only half-past eleven.”
“One more,” Jack assented, sitting down again.
Brandy was ordered, and Victor Nevill kept up a rapid conversation, and an interesting one. From time to time he glanced covertly at his watch, and it might have been supposed that he was purposely detaining his companion. More brandy was placed on the table, and Jack frequently lifted the glass to his lips. With a cigar between his teeth, with flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes, he laughed as merrily as any in the room. But he did not drink too much, and the hand that he finally held out to Nevill was perfectly steady.
“I must be off now,” he said. “It is long past midnight. Good-by, old chap, and bon voyage.”
“Good-by, my dear fellow. Take care of yourself.”
It was an undemonstrative parting, such as English-men are addicted to. Jack sauntered out to the boulevard, and turned his steps homeward. His thoughts were all of Diane, and he was not to be cajoled by a couple of grisettes who made advances. He nodded to a friendly gendarme, and crossed the street to avoid a frolicksome party of students, who were bawling at the top of their voices the chorus of the latest topical song by Paulus, the Beranger of the day—
“Nous en avons pour tous les gouts.”