Her face stiffened. “No.”
This was the first time she had succeeded in seeing Victor alone during all the five days of his stay. Unobtrusively but effectively he had avoided her, shutting himself, when he was not in the sick-room, in his own room, under the pretext of fatigue or correspondence. And she had not submitted to this without repeated efforts to foil his intentions.
Again and again she had made little plans to catch him alone, but she had invariably failed, and as the days passed and she realised his strength of determination, a dull, slow fire of anger had begun to burn in her.
Theo, who had been down twice, had found her manner very unsatisfactory; she was strikingly different from what she had been in Falaise, and the young man was puzzled and hurt. While Tommy was still very ill he had borne with her change of mood with great patience, but the time was coming when he must demand an explanation. All this she felt and resented.
She looked, as she stood by the rose-bush, very tired, and older than her years, but she looked remarkably handsome; pallor and heavy eyelids did not disfigure her as they do most women.
Joyselle took out his silver box and made a cigarette.
“He was talking to me about it,” he went on, disregarding the final quality of her negative. “And I find it very good. It is that Tommy should live much with—you—when you are married. Your mother does not know how to bring him up; he is delicate and high-strung, and Theo is very fond of him.”
“I am not going to marry Theo!” she burst out, exasperated beyond endurance.
He looked up. “Are you mad?” he asked quietly.
“No. But—you seem to be trying to make me mad. I can’t understand you, Victor.”
“Can’t you, Brigit? I should think it was very easy. You remember what we agreed at Falaise? That——”
“That I was to marry Theo and ‘live happy ever after’? Oh, yes, I remember. But do you remember how miserable you were the day before—and the day of—the wedding? And why that was?”
He was silent for a moment.
“Yes,” he answered humbly. “I know. I was—jealous.”
“Well—and you expect me to be happy and content while you behave as you are doing now? You never speak to me; you never look at me; you fly from me as if I were an infectious disease. It is—unbearable,” she ended passionately. “I can’t bear it.”
He smoked in silence for some seconds. “I am—sorry to have hurt you, Brigit.”
“Sorry to have hurt me! I don’t believe you love me. If you were jealous, so am I! I will not be treated like this.”
His white face was like a mask. “I am sorry,” he repeated, with a kind of dogged patience.
“Then if you are—be good to me. I love you, Victor.”
He met her eyes and his did not falter in their steady gaze. “Please do not excite yourself,” he said very gently, “and—I think I will go in now. It must be breakfast time.”