It is curious, but strictly according to the laws of the feminine logic, that as he made this speech, haltingly, painfully, but with resolution in every word of it, Brigit’s mind should slowly change to a feeling of resentment.
She herself had made up her mind to marry Theo, and she had seen plainly that this was fitting and wise; yet Joyselle’s acceptance of these facts stirred her to rebellion, and once more she protested against his voicing of her own determination. “You are quite right,” she said coldly; “it is only a pity that we did not see all this before!”
And in his turn he winced.
“We have been very mad,” she continued, her old barbaric love of seeing him suffer returning. Then in her own pain: “But from this moment on I shall do my part, as you suggest. No doubt in a month’s time we shall both be laughing at our little tragic comedy.”
He did not answer, but his brown face slowly changed colour and he closed his eyes for a second.
“No doubt. As for me—there is no fool like an old fool, they say. However, we have come to our senses in time—thank God!” The last two words came with a sharp, spasmodic sound, and when he had said them he took from his pocket the silver box, with Marie-Rose engraved on it, and taking from it paper and tobacco, began to roll a cigarette.
Brigit was dumfounded as well as deeply hurt. His strength filled her with terror. That he could bow to Fate, she had not expected, and forgetting, as women do, that men’s training from early boyhood teaches them, as nothing ever teaches women, the trick of momentary self-control, a wild doubt of his love flashed through her and took her breath away.
“You are angry,” she ventured, hoping, though subconsciously and without cruelty, to break down his resolution. But he smiled sadly, for he was sincere.
“No, my dear, I am not angry. I am sad, because I love you—as yet—far more than I should, but—from this moment on I shall bend all my strength to the conquering of that love. You must help me. You will know how, for women always know. Now—will you shake hands with me and bid God bless me? It is to be a hard struggle for me, but I will win, for my will is strong, and the cause is good—Is that you, Theo?”
“Yes, father.” Theo was trying the door. “Anything wrong?” he added.
Joyselle turned the key. “No,” he said quietly as his son entered, “but we were tired of the good company. I will go now, my dear. Stay and talk to your fiancee.”
An hour later Brigit slowly mounted the stairs at the inn. She was desperately tired, and as unhappy as she was tired. Joyselle’s attitude, although she was bound in common justice to acknowledge its correctness, hurt her to an almost incredible degree. Nothing had ever so wounded her, and she felt the longing common to reserved people to hide her pain from everybody.