“Why should she do something foolish, if it is only a—passionette?” he asked harshly, for he did not enjoy his wife’s hypothesis.
“It is not the greatest loves that are the most desperate, my dear. But we must go down. Be kind to her. Remember that she is young, and that her imagination has made a king of you.”
Joyselle frowned ferociously as he followed his wife downstairs. He did not like being taken into her confidence in this way, and her calm assumption that he, too, regarded Brigit as a silly schoolgirl who must be managed into giving up a childish fancy for an old man cut him to the quick. When they reached his study they found Theo sitting at the piano playing with the parrot, while Brigit stood, looking like a thunder cloud, at an open window. Joyselle started as he saw her face. Surely its expression must rouse even Felicite’s slow suspicion!
And never, for his sins, he told himself grimly, had she been more beautiful. Her storm of tears had left her eyes unswollen, but shadowy and unusually melting, while her face, as white as paper, was the face of one who had been face to face with a horrible death.
“I beg your pardon for having been—rude,” she said to him sulkily, holding out her hand, which was as cold as ice.
“But it is I,” he murmured, touching his lips to her fingers and feeling her quiver as he did so. “It is that we both have what you English call bad tempers, pas?”
“You must have been very bad this time, papa,” commented Theo, closing the cage door on le Conquerant and joining them. “Brigit is very angry. Look at her!”
“I am not angry, Theo. But—quarrelling is disgusting.”
Why she had stayed the girl hardly knew. She had not forgiven Joyselle, and her apology was a mere concession to the feelings of Felicite and Theo.
Joyselle had hurt her, but her treatment of him had so wounded herself that she could not forgive him. All of which is quite illogical and quite feminine.
“I will go away—anywhere—to-morrow,” she told herself as she ate her supper. “Theo will not know why, and Felicite will not tell. This sort of thing cannot go on. This is the fifth row in the last month. We are both too pig-headed. It’s no use trying to keep the peace. I suppose if I were his mistress he would be easier to manage—or I should. The truth is, we are both struggling for supremacy, and we can neither of us drive the other.”
Joyselle, with a great effort, chattered gaily throughout the meal. His thoughts, too, were in a turmoil, for he knew that her apology had been offered merely on Theo’s account, and he also knew that something was going to happen.
Felicite, sincerely sorry for Brigit and anxious anent Theo, talked more than usual, so that the uncongenial gathering was more voluble and noisy than usual.
At its close Felicite called her son to her room under some pretext or other, and Joyselle and Brigit went alone to his study. He closed the door very quietly, and then turning to her, caught her hands threateningly.