“Yes. And he was so delighted with his new—daughter—that he promptly forgot his—love.”
“But what did she do?”
“She made a fool of herself, poor thing; wrote, and telegraphed, and threatened to kill herself. So we sent Theo to see her, and she quieted down.”
Brigit burst out laughing. “Sent Theo?”
“Yes. He always goes. He is very quiet and reasonable, you see.”
Madame Joyselle rose. “I must go and see about the dinner. Will you come? Ah, yes,” as they went downstairs, “they are like that, the men. But Theo will be faithful to you, of that I am sure. He is like my people, and then, thank God, he is not an artist!”
“Antoinette, I have something to say to you.”
“So I ventured to gather from the fact that you have come to see me.”
It was mid-May, and a fragrant breeze stirred the delicate curtains of Lady Kingsmead’s little drawing-room in Pont Street. There were flowers everywhere, chiefly white lilacs, and the pale green and white chintz and the quantities of light-hued pillows on the sofas (all of which belonged, as yet, to Messrs. Liberty) made of the room a pleasant refuge from the unusual heat outside. Lady Kingsmead, dressed in pale pink, looked in the faint light very pretty as she leaned back in her deep chair and played with the Persian cat.
Carron, upright on his small gilt chair, was pale and agitated, the primitive feelings showing in his ravaged face looking in some way more out of place, because he was exquisitely frock-coated and had a fresh-blown tea-rose in his button-hole, than they would have done if he had been shabby.
When Lady Kingsmead had spoken, he cleared his throat and began hurriedly: “Antoinette—my—my wife is dead.”
“Good Lord, Gerald, how you startled me! Is she really?”
“Yes, I—I saw her this morning.”
“Drink?” asked Lady Kingsmead, pleasantly.
He frowned. “No. Cancer.”
She went to him and put her hand on his shoulder.
“You look ill, poor dear. What is the matter? Your looks are a bit on the blink, too, Gerry! You must buck up.”
She sat down and dabbed gingerly at her eyes with a scrap of handkerchief. “It is rather tragic, in its very insignificance, isn’t it? Well—what is it? Is it Brigit?”
Mutely and miserably he bowed his head, until she saw the carefully concealed thin place on his crown.
“I thought so. It’s no good, Gerald—give me the cat, will you?—she dislikes you.”
“She loathes me. And I would be burnt to death for her to-morrow.”
She started at something in his tone—something she had not heard for years.
“Can’t you get over it?”