There was a short pause, during which he looked at her unfalteringly, and then he went on with a certain dignity: “I have—drunk too much of late years, I know, but—I will never do so again. And I think I could make you happy.”
“Did mother send you here?” asked the girl suddenly.
“No; I telephoned her this morning for your address. She would be glad—if you could make up your mind.”
“I have made up my mind, Lord Pontefract. I am going to marry Theo Joyselle. And—I think I am going to be happy. I—like them all very much. And,” holding out her hand, “I am very sorry to have hurt you.”
As she spoke the sound of music—violin music—came down the stairs. They both started, for it was the Wedding March from “Lohengrin.”
Brigit’s small face went white with anger. “I—am sorry,” she stammered; “it is—ghastly. It isn’t Theo—it is his father. Oh, do go!”
Pontefract nodded. “Yes, I’ll go. And—never mind, Brigit. He doesn’t know, the old chap!”
He left the room hastily, and she ran upstairs, her hands clenched.
It was as she expected: Theo had left the room, and Joyselle stood alone by the open door, his face radiant with malicious, delight. “Parti, hein? I thought he’d—What is the matter?” he ended hastily, staring at her.
She went straight to him, breathing hard, her brows nearly meeting. “How could you do such a thing? It was abominable—hideous!”
“What was abominable?”
“To play that Wedding March! Theo had told you about—about him, and you did it to hurt him. Oh, how could anybody do such a thing!”
Joyselle put his violin carefully into its case.
“You are rude, mademoiselle,” he returned sternly; “very rude indeed. But you are—my guest.”
And he left the room.
Brigit’s temper was very violent, but she had seen in his set face signs of one much worse than her own, and, with the strange unexpectedness that seemed to characterise the man, his last move was as fully that of a gentleman as his trick with the Wedding March had been shocking.
He was her host, and—he had left her rather than forget that fact.
For the first time in her life she was utterly at a loss. What should she do?
She was still standing where he had left her when Madame Joyselle came in, perfectly serene, and closed the door.
“What is the matter?” she asked calmly, sitting down and folding her hands.
“I—M. Joyselle—hurt one of my friends—he was—rude. And then——”
“C’est ca. And then you were rude. Never mind, he will not think of it again, and neither must you.”
Brigit was silent, and stood looking at le Conquerant. She had been impolite, and Joyselle’s discourtesy was, after all, more like a bit of schoolboy malice than the deliberate insult of a grown man. And his dignified rebuke to her had set her at once on the plane of a naughty child.