“Yes, I certainly preferred Mr. Catt—but you didn’t like him either.”
“How could anyone like a fellow named Catt? I nearly choked every time I had to speak to him, and so did the Master.” It was thus that the boy designated and addressed Joyselle. “He used to call him Minet. I have learned that rotten old multiplication-table, however, and Latin is easy. I do wish,” he went on, gnawing at an ancient bit of almond-rock that he had acquired at the village sweetstuff shop at home, “that mother had had me well whacked when I was a kid. It would have saved me no end of trouble now.”
Brigit laughed as she dabbed some cherry-coloured grease on her pointed nails. “Poor old Tommy!”
The almond-rock was an impediment to fluency of conversation, but after a moment Tommy mastered it and went on. “I say, Bicky, what’s gone wrong with Carron?”
She started. “I—why do you ask?”
“Because I think he looks very ill. Saw him yesterday as I went out, and hardly knew him.”
“Perhaps he’s had influenza,” she suggested.
She had not seen the man for weeks. He had been away several times, and when he had come to the house had not asked for her. The last time they had met they had, of course, quarrelled, and then she had forgotten him, as she forgot everybody and everything not brought directly under her notice.
In March he had gone to Monte Carlo to see her mother, who was visiting there, and Lady Kingsmead had told her afterwards that he had been wretched all during his stay. Brigit said she was sorry, but it is to be doubted if the afflictions of anyone, if not directly affecting herself, would at that time have given her any pain, and of all people poor Carron was probably the last with whom she could feel any real sympathy.
Tommy had a bad throat and was not to go back to Golden Square that night, but Brigit was dining somewhere with the two Joyselle men, and was to spend the night in the now so-familiar spare-room, with the coloured religious pictures on the walls.
Lady Kingsmead had returned to town that morning, but the perfect freedom she gained by Tommy’s long stay with, and her daughter’s daily visits to, the Joyselles, had long since overcome her first scruples about “those sort of people being after all quite the associates for Kingsmead,” and had accepted Brigit’s announcement for her intention with an absent nod.
“Very well, dear, and remind him not to forget that he is dining here on Tuesday. He really is most obliging, about playing, I must say.”
“Yes, the poor creature has his qualities,” returned the girl, drily. Twice during the past twelve weeks she had gone to Kingsmead for a day or two, and on each occasion her note, written to the violinist at her mother’s suggestion, asking him down to dine and spend the night, had met with telegraphic acceptance.
“Good-bye, little brother.”