“You!” he cried, impetuously, and then stood still. “You got my note?” he added a second later, sternly.
Her heart sank. He was very strong. Then he came towards her, his brows drawn down over his eyes, his nostrils dilated, and she lied.
Normans are quick to suspect deceit, and for a moment his expression did not change; then, for individually the man was as trustful as racially he was suspicious, he smiled. “I see. But why are you out so early? It is not yet nine.”
“And you?” she returned deftly, her heart beating not only with the excitement of the duel, but with enjoyment of her own skill.
“I—well, I have business.”
“Then get in and I’ll take you wherever you want to go, I want to talk to you.”
He hesitated, but she smiled at him and he succumbed, thinking to himself, she could see, that after all she knew nothing of what was going on in his mind.
As he took his place beside her the cabman opened his trap-door and asked with the hoarseness of his kind:
“W’ere to, sir?”
Joyselle frowned. “To—Piccadilly. I’ll tell you when we get to where I wish to stop.”
Brigit suppressed a smile. Now he was thinking, she saw, that he would tell her of his intended departure before he gave the Cunard Company’s address.
He was pale, but to her surprise looked younger rather than older than usual. His mental disturbance had left traces on his face, and they were, as it was, young in their nature. He had fallen in love, and the youth in him, both physical and mental, flared up responsively to the call of the emotion.
Suddenly she saw her line of action clearly marked out for her, and without an instant’s hesitation took it. If he suspected that she loved him, nothing in the world could keep him by her. So he must not know. In all her dreams and reflections about their relations, she had never taken into account the possibility of things turning out as they had. She had always tacitly taken for granted that it would be by her will that the man should be waked up to the real state of his own mind. Even after the evening of the dragon-skin frock he had not known the real explanation of his amazement on her entrance, and had, she knew, merely advanced in his perilous path to the point of realising that she was, although his future daughter, an amazingly desirable woman.
So far she had read him correctly. But that something outside her own personal sway should open his eyes she had not anticipated.
This had, however, happened, and with the acute intuition of a woman fighting for her life, she understood what she must do to prevent his flight.
So, turning towards him, she smiled amusedly.
“Eh, b’en, Beau-papa? Got over your fright? You big baby!”
He stared, and she went on without a pause, but speaking slowly, to give an idea of leisure, “To think that you of all people should be afraid of thunder! It was lucky you had your valorous daughter to shield you.”