Theo arrived rather late, and after making his bow to his hostess, came straight to her. His fine young face was flushed and eager and his eyes very bright.
Brigit, who was standing talking to Maytopp, felt her heart sink. She had not yet decided what to say, and instinctively she looked round the room for Joyselle.
“Brigit—will you dance?” Theo bowed, a trifle lower than Englishmen bow, and offered her his arm with the very slightest suggestion of swagger. And somehow he reminded her at that moment more of his father than he had ever done.
He did not speak as they danced, but she knew that he was fairly confident of her answer being a favourable one, and she tried to think that the waltz was never going to end.
But it did end, and she found herself near the window leading to the balcony where she had talked with his father early in the evening.
“Brigit——” he whispered gently, looking out into the darkness.
And then she heard herself answer: “Yes, Theo. But—ask your father what he and I have decided.”
“Yes. He knows what we are going to do, and he will tell you.”
Without a word he left her and she stepped out on the balcony. Leaning against the parapet she stared down into the empty street, wondering what Joyselle would say. She had not intended to put the responsibility of the future on him; she had said the words almost unconsciously, but they were said. And he, when he came?
Would the horrible courage she had felt in him prevail to the extent of allowing him to give her to his son? Or would he refuse to settle things? Or would he, worst of all, announce his departure for America!
He was so many men, each of whom were so strong and so individual, that she could not know what he would say. Closing her eyes she waited. When the two men joined her Theo was—laughing. And to her overwrought nerves the sound seemed an insult.
“Why do you laugh?” she asked sharply.
He started. “Why—I don’t remember. Papa said something amusing. Is anything wrong, my dear?”
“No.” Joyselle stood in the light and she could see his face. It looked set and a little grim, but there was a fierce light in his eyes.
She looked at him defiantly. Yes, she had done well; he should choose.
“Eh, bien?” suggested Joyselle suddenly, “why have you sent for me, Most Beautiful?”
So Theo had not explained!
“Theo is very impatient,” she answered in a low voice; “he wants me to set our wedding-day. And—I have to make up my mind, you know—I thought as you and I had talked it over before dinner, you would not mind—casting the die for us.”
There was a pause while Joyselle deliberately moved beyond the radius of the light.
Theo did not move, but his immobility was the motionlessness of extreme tension. He had not observed the discrepancy in her story, Brigit saw, and was simply waiting.