“Do you know Rodin’s Portrait d’un Inconnu?” she asked Joyselle.
“But you know Rodin?”
“I have met him.”
Ecstatic was her smile.
“I knew it. And unconsciously you were his model for the Inconnu. But it is you, M. Joyselle! Do not deny it, for I know.”
Joyselle took an olive.
“I do not deny it, Lady Sophy. But I know nothing of it. If you are right I am—much flattered.”
Brigit was amused, for she saw that the Spectre, as her friends called the grey-draped peeress, had anticipated excitement and curiosity on Joyselle’s part.
There was music somewhere in the distance, and the air was sweet with the smell of roses from the room behind them as well as from the garden below.
Struther talked little, Brigit, with her usual indifference to others, almost not at all, and as Joyselle’s self-command rose only to the height of an occasional reply to the Spectre’s monologue, which was not of an arresting nature, the party on the balcony was very quiet.
Brigit suffered tortures as she sat watching Joyselle. It was, then, as she had feared. He was going to be strong and make everyone miserable.
If she had been asked to propose any kind of a plan for the future, her answer would have been, when denuded of side issues and fantasy, simply that she could see nothing better than simple drifting. As yet she could not anticipate, and it roused in her a kind of jealousy that Joyselle had so soon begun to think of Theo. His love for her should have dimmed all consideration for his son—it should have been she who suggested some means of hurting the boy as little as possible.
But she could see that Joyselle was going to be what she called in the frankness she allowed herself, tiresome about that wretched boy of his.
She also knew that Joyselle would be anything but pleased by her resolution to leave home and live by herself. His respect for certain laws were an integral part of his nature, and she knew that he would not approve of her deserting what he was certain to call the maternal roof. This curious element of Philistinism in his otherwise Bohemian nature was very perplexing, and she told herself, as she looked at him while he gravely listened to the ghostly Lady Sophy, that her troubles were in reality only just beginning.
“M. Joyselle,” she asked him during a pause that only a burning desire for champagne induced Lady Sophy to allow to pass unchallenged, “will petite mere mind my coming to sleep to-night? I want very much to see her about something, and so I told mother I’d get you and Theo to take me home.”
He bowed with an assumption of fatherly gratification. “But of course, my dear.” Then, for his powers of dissimulation were not of durable quality, he turned quickly to Lady Sophy.
So that was all right.
When dinner was over and the women were herded together in the drawing-room, Brigit sat down and took up a book. In an hour Theo would be coming, and would want his answer. What was it to be?