“My good child, don’t be melodramatic! I only wanted to tell you that—that I am sorry I was rude to you the day you left——”
“Rude, were you? I had quite forgotten it. Now go!”
“No, thanks. I will sit down for a moment. Brigit, you are a very foolish woman. Hush, I will tell you why. Firstly, because you are going to marry the son of that musical mountebank; and secondly, because you seem bound to make an enemy of me.”
She stood looking down at him with a smile as disagreeable, though not as evil, as his own. “Don’t you be melodramatic! And please go. If you don’t, I’ll ring for Amelie.”
“I don’t mind.”
And she knew that he did not. She, on the other hand did, for she had always disliked and distrusted the Frenchwoman. “If you prefer one of the men?”
“They won’t hear you; men-servants never do. And, besides, I’m going in a minute. Listen, Brigit; you have, during the past year, done everything you could to hurt me. Do you think it’s fair, all things considered?”
“Fair or unfair, your—attentions annoy me.”
“Well—your attitude annoys me, and unless you change it, I’ll—get even with you. Now, there’s plain English for you.” He rose. “That’s all I wanted to say. Rather pretty, your room.”
“Very good,” she sneered. “In the language of your favourite branch of dramatic art, ‘do your worst.’”
“And you intend to continue to torture me till—till I can’t bear it?” His face whitened, and there was real agony in his voice. After all, he was suffering too, and suddenly, for the first time, she pitied him.
“I am sorry, Gerald,” she said, bending towards him and laying her hand on his shoulder. “I——”
“Hush!” reaching out his hand he switched off the light, for they had both heard slow footsteps coming softly down the passage.
The room was dark now but for the fire which had died down, and luckily they stood in the shadow. The soft footsteps, heavy, though they would have been noiseless at any other hour than this most quiet one, approached slowly and deliberately. Instinctively the girl clung to the man, and he put his arms round her for the first time since she was a little child. Even in their mutual fright she felt his heart give a wild throb.
Then the door opened gently and on the threshold appeared—Tommy, sound asleep, hugging to his unconscious breast the volume of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, in which he had been reading about the Amati.
Slowly the boy crossed the room and disappeared into the sitting-room.
“Go,” whispered Brigit, desperately; “he mustn’t be waked up—go this way——”
But Carron had lost his head, and kissed her, breathlessly, hungrily, and then, just as the little blue-clad figure again appeared in the one doorway, he disappeared by the other.
The girl stood quite still, not daring to scream, so angry that only the unconscious presence of Tommy prevented her rushing after the man she hated, to try to kill him with her two hands.