Driven beyond her own control by his tone, she caught his arm and pleaded with him, her voice harsh and broken, and she could not stop, although she saw that she was, besides annoying him, injuring herself in his eyes.
“Then tell me that you love me. You can’t have stopped—it is only a week since the wedding—I—can’t bear this——”
But her mistaken line of conduct brought its inevitable punishment. “This is—absurd,” he said coldly, “and—undignified. I told you at Falaise that I was ashamed of myself for being jealous of my son. It was monstrous and hideous. I think I have been not quite in my right mind for some time. But I have a strong will and can force myself to anything——”
“And you are forcing yourself to kill your love for me——”
“No. I am trying to learn to love you as a—a daughter, and I am beginning to succeed. But if you insist in making scenes like this——” He broke off and gave his shoulders an expressive shrug. “It is—not womanly.”
Then, breaking the yellow rose from the bush, he drew its stem through his button-hole and strolled leisurely away, whistling under his breath.
For two days Brigit Mead remained in her room, refusing to see anyone. Tommy, who had reached the period when convalescents sleep most of the time, was told that she was resting, and that he must be very good and eat a great deal, with a view to surprising her by his progress when she reappeared.
But the girl was not resting.
Up and down the two rooms she paced, day and night, her face set, her hands clenched, talking aloud to herself sometimes, sometimes silent, always thinking, thinking, thinking of Joyselle.
Had he ceased to love her, or was it merely a pose, or—ten thousand theories occurred to her, to drive her perilously near madness in her solitude. Things he had done, words he had said, characteristics she had observed in him, all these things flashed into her mind, upsetting and confirming each and every theory with an utter lack of logic, but with pitiless conclusiveness.
And the longer she thought the more hopeless things grew. Theo himself she dismissed with furious impatience; his letters remained unopened, an affectionate wire of congratulation on Tommy’s improvement she did not answer. He and everyone else were swept aside by the flood of emotional analysis regarding Joyselle that, in its headlong course, threatened to carry her reason with it.
“If I had been married,” she thought over and over again with cruel shrewdness, “things—would have been different, and then he could not have escaped.”
She wrote to Joyselle long letters full of incoherent self-accusations, and made appeals for pity, but she knew that he would not answer her, and so burned the letters.
She could not eat; did not even try, and the little sleep she got from sheer exhaustion, after tramping up and down for hours, was heavy and unrestful. Lady Kingsmead came to her door once or twice, but was not allowed to enter, and went away unprotesting. And then, the third morning, Dr. Long insisted on seeing her.