Ada, who had been beating a loud tattoo with the fork which she still held in her hand, sprang to her feet and struck the table with a force which set the glasses jingling.
“Jasper!” she almost shouted. “You’ll drive me mad! Why don’t you speak out and say what you mean? What’s the matter with Adrien? What does he want? Aren’t there a hundred men who’d be glad enough to furnish a house for me as I like? And can’t I even eat what I choose without Adrien Leroy’s delicate nose being turned up in disapproval?”
“You can go to the deuce, if you like, my dear,” declared Jasper with a calm smile. “I merely warn you that you are on the way to finding yourself in the street, if I may be allowed to speak out. Have another cigarette, and spray some patchouli about the room. There are more geese than one, as you say; and, after all, it is hard if you can’t indulge in onions in your own room at one o’clock in the morning.”
Goaded almost to desperation by the sneering sarcasm of Vermont’s words, the woman threw down her fork, thereby smashing a champagne glass, and thrust her angry, flushed countenance close to his.
“What’s your game?” she hissed. “Are you playing with me and Adrien? Are you setting him against me? I know your artful tricks; but don’t you play ’em on me, Jasper! What are you doing up at the Castle so often? Making yourself pleasant to old Lord Barminster’s niece there, I’ll be bound. P’raps she ain’t fond of scent or a pork chop or two, and she can have real statues if she likes. You don’t remind him of that, do you? Oh, no, of course not! But you mind your skin, Jasper, for you can’t play fast and loose with me. Shuffle him on to that Constance girl, and I’ll make you pay for it. I know something you wouldn’t like my lord to hear about; so, if you don’t want me to open my mouth and split on your little games, don’t you play me any of your tricks, that’s all, or I’ll go straight to Adrien and tell him all!”
She stopped, out of breath, and Jasper Vermont, springing to his feet, glared down at her in impotent fury. But she only laughed at his angry face.
“Oh, no, you wouldn’t like Adrien to know how you fooled poor Julia, though it is over twenty years ago. I haven’t forgotten, if you have, how you took her over to Paris while I was away on my first tour, and went through some form of marriage with her. You wouldn’t like him to know how you told her what you’d done, when there was no longer need to keep it dark from your father, and of the attack of brain fever it brought on, poor dear! You were a nice brute to her, you were, Jasper Vermont; and it’s a lucky thing for you and her too that when she recovered her memory had gone, and she forgot you as well as the child.”
Jasper stirred uneasily.
“I didn’t think she would have cared so much,” he said. “Besides, she’s all right now; she only forgets those few years.”
“Lucky thing for you,” repeated Ada dryly.