She sat quite still, looking up at him with an indulgent smile, into which the maternal element largely entered. He was a fatal person, this great fiddler of hers; but to her he was also a child to be cared for, and a not quite normal being, to whose absent mind much must be explained.
Her charming face, almost old in spite of its fresh colour, was touched, as she watched his back, with a flicker of kindly mischief.
“And to think that you did not know, blind one,” she teased.
“It—it is your imagination,” he returned with a slight stammer, turning and facing her.
“No, no. Also I did not imagine that at first you, too, were a little epris. It was most natural, my dear. She is so very beautiful. I was glad when it passed. It was the day of the long discussion about the wedding—the day of the letter from your mother—do you remember? When you rushed away like a whirlwind?”
“Well, when you returned, you were quiet and a little pale, and I understood. The talk about Theo’s wedding had put things into their right places in your mind, silly old child, pas? And then you brought her back here after the dance, and—all was well.”
Joyselle stood quite still. He was bitterly ashamed of himself for deceiving this dear, good woman, who was so innocently believing in him, but he could say nothing. All was well, she said, when he came home that evening after Brigit had come to him in the studio. Yes, but it was because he knew then that she loved him; because his scruples were for the time overwhelmed by the irresistible force of their passion for each other; because the glory of the present blinded his eyes to any visualising of the future.
That love, like everything else, must go through a series of mathematically exact evolutions, Joyselle of course, in his present frame of mind, could not realise. To him, as to every lover, the happenings and exigencies of his situation seemed those of pure hazard, and this phase, as he listened to his wife’s interpretation of it, appeared to him absolutely the result of a chance quarrel with Brigit.
“She is distressed and very tragic about it all,” continued Felicite. “Of course she would be tragic; it is her nature. She no doubt believes that she will never get over it. It is a pity, isn’t it?”
“Oui, oui.” He had again turned away, and stood by the window polishing his nails, of which he was very vain, in the palm of his hand.
“The only thing that troubles me is—Theo. It would break his heart, poor child. He, too,” she added, still with her kindly cynicism, “would think she will never get over it. It is thus that all lovers think. But—what are we to do, Victor? I have been thinking much about it. Shall we try separation—from you—for her? Or would that make it worse? She is not patient, and she has no discipline or self-control. She might do something foolish.”