“What have you done with the child?” he asked suddenly.
His companion’s face lighted up with malicious triumph.
“I’ve put her where you can’t find her, anyhow,” she said. “You shan’t break her heart, as you did her mother’s.”
“Oh, nonsense, Ada!” said Vermont contemptuously. “Don’t begin to rant—you’re not on the stage now. I kept all my promises to you, at any rate. I got you on at the Rockingham and I introduced you to Leroy; and if you had only played your cards properly you would have hooked him by this time. As it is, he’ll marry his cousin, if you’re not careful.”
“If he does, it’ll be your fault,” she snarled. “And I’ll tell Adrien all, and how you’re fooling him in other ways as well.”
Jasper sprang across the room, his face working with anger. There was something so deadly in the light of his dark eyes, such murderous hate in every line of his face, that the woman shrank back and uttered a cry of fear, instinctively glancing at a knife which lay on the table close to Jasper’s other hand.
How far Vermont’s anger might have carried him she did not know, for, to her intense relief, the door opened and Adrien Leroy himself entered the room. He gazed in surprise at the two occupants, and in an instant Jasper had regained his self-control. He did not release Ada’s wrist, but, smoothing his scowl into a sleek smile, he said with a careless laugh:
“No, Ada, your arm is as slim as ever. The bracelet will just fit you.” He relaxed his grip as he spoke and turned to Leroy. “Ada has bet me that the new bracelet you bought her is too small, Adrien,” he explained glibly. “She thought she was getting stout.”
Adrien nodded indifferently; while Ada, with a little cry of relief, ran towards him.
“Adrien, how good of you to come!” she exclaimed. “I did not expect you so soon.”
Leroy did not seem to notice her, but looked round the room with evident displeasure. The table, with its remains of supper; the stained cloth; above all, the undesirable odour of food and stale tobacco; all seemed to fill him with disgust. Gently, but firmly, he put Ada from him.
“Jasper,” he said, turning to Vermont, “you know why I came. Give Miss Lester the deeds of the Casket Theatre. I am tired and am going home.”
With a courteous good-night to Ada, who, without attempting to thank him for his gift, stood scowling and sullen, he passed out of the room; while Vermont leaned back against the table with folded arms and his inevitable, but significant, smile on his face.
The night was bitterly cold; but, disdaining a taxi for so short a distance, Leroy buttoned up his coat and strode swiftly along towards his chambers in Jermyn Court, W. As he turned the corner of the square, he stumbled sharply over the slight figure of a girl, crouched near one of the doorsteps, and, with his habitual courtesy, he stopped to see if any harm had been done.