“Brigit—je t’aime, je t’aime. I am infamous, I am a monster, a father to be execrated by all honest men and women, but—I love you!”
He laid the violin down in a chair and came to her. “Et toi?” he asked hoarsely.
The moment had come when she must think, she told herself, but her brain refused to work. The only thing that mattered was that he should stay. What must she say, truth or lie, that would inspire that necessity?
She stared at him blankly, and then, before she could speak, he knelt at her feet and pressed a fold of her dress to his face.
“Victor,” she said slowly, trembling so she could hardly stand, “you will not—leave me?”
And Joyselle caught her up off the floor and held her as if she had been a baby.
“Dieu merci,” he cried. “Dieu merci.”
An hour later Brigit Mead came quietly down the now nearly dark stairs of the old house, smiling faintly to herself.
Joyselle’s confession had been complete and circumstantial. He had not attempted to hide from her one thing, and in the relief of his, as it seemed, unavoidable avowal, he had hardly given her time to speak. “It was, I think, the evening you came in the golden gown. You remember? It was a vision; but an angelic vision, Most Beautiful; but one that turned me first to stone, and then to fire. Vivien must have worn a golden gown. And then the evening in Pont Street—the storm, when I put my arms round you—they went round the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, it is true, but also round my daughter. But—in that lightning flash of time I found they were round the woman compared to my love of whom the whole world does not matter! And I ran into the night and walked for hours in the rain, and I think I was mad. Then I determined to go to America. And I would have gone, God knows, but—you came, and your unconsciousness broke me down. If you had suspected, I should have gone; I was on my way to the Steamship Company when I met you. And then, Hampstead—and this past week—and then you came to me here where I work—and where I dream—ah, my beloved!”
He was very gentle in his unhoped-for happiness, and to her immense relief he never once mentioned, or even appeared to remember, his son.
When he asked her, with the marvelling curiosity of a boy lover, when and why she ever came to love him, she only shook her head. “I love you,” she answered, and he forgot, looking at her, to insist.
No word of the future had been said, not a plan had been made. Only, at parting, to meet later in the evening at the Newlyns, he said to her, “I will be the greatest violinist in the world, my woman.”
And her heart beat high with honest pride in him.
Too happy to think, she went down the stairs, and half-way down found herself face to face with Gerald Carron.