“Oh, my God, Tony, I don’t know. Can’t—can’t you help me?”
“Yes. She can’t love that boy; he is utterly insignificant. She’s marrying him for his money.”
“No. She likes him. But, of course, the money helped. But she wouldn’t marry you if you were a millionaire yourself. She loathes you. Always has.”
“I am going mad, I think. I haven’t slept for months. Look at my hand, how it shakes; anyone would think I was a drunkard! Look here, Tony, couldn’t you ask her to speak civilly to me, at least?”
She was almost frightened as she looked at his piteous face. He had indeed changed appallingly in the last six or eight months, and there was a tremulous movement about his well-cut mouth that was alarming.
“Yes, Gerald, I’ll ask her. I—I am awfully sorry for you.”
“Thanks. As far as that’s concerned, everybody in the world ought to be sorry for everybody else. We all have our little private hell. When is the—is the wedding-day fixed?”
“Oh, no,” she returned hastily, “dear me, no. She is in no hurry to marry, and he is, of course, dough in her hands. You, at least, needn’t worry about that. Will you dine here?”
“She is to be here, and Joyselle. Theo is out of town.”
Carron rose and hesitated. “Do you think she’d mind?” he asked piteously. A sharp pang touched her worldly heart. If, years ago, she had let him go? If she had not made him give up diplomacy because she wanted him in England? He would, doubtless, have divorced his impossible wife, and married, and this would not have come to him.
“Of course she won’t mind. Does she know that you love her?”
He nodded. She stared, and then rang the bell. “Bring Mr. Carron a brandy and soda, Fledge; he is not well.”
She went to the window and stood looking out into the quiet street until the man had returned and she heard Carron set down the empty glass.
Then, without looking at him, she came back. Her shallow soul was dismayed.
“Dinner at 8.30?” he asked after a pause.
“Yuss. Good-bye till then, for I must fly and make some calls.”
“Good-bye, Tony. You are sure that boy isn’t coming? I—I am getting to hate him——”
“Nonsense,” she laughed harshly, for she was not merry; “he isn’t even invited. He is in the country, I tell you.”
“Then, au ’voir.”
“Au ’voir, Gerry.”
He went away, feeling that his cause perhaps was not utterly hopeless.
And in her gaudy bedroom, in the caravanserai that had been her idea of luxury, his wife lay dead.
When the women had left the dining-room Carron got up from his place and sat down by Joyselle, who looked at him with unconcealed astonishment. He had never liked Carron, and knew that the man did not like him.