“I will not go to Kingsmead, Victor.”
“Then,” his anger now finally blazed up, “I can say only—good-bye.”
Her face was as white and as hard as his own, and being a woman she could even laugh.
“What do you mean by that? You will not—surely you cannot mean that you will——”
“But I do!” He himself had suggested a revenge to her. “If you and I quarrel, I will most certainly not marry your son.”
For a moment the father in him dominated the mere man, and his eloquence was great as he reproached her.
“No—no, I am not cruel,” she answered cruelly, her anger reinforced by a wave of jealousy anent Theo, “but as I do not love him, why should I marry him? And this kind of thing had far better cease. After all, you care for him far more than you care for me.”
“Yes, of course you do,” she went on in the tone of gentle, unimpassioned reason that women sometimes use in violent anger, to the utter amazement and undoing of their male opponents. “And moreover, I daresay if I really loved you as much as I thought I did, I should be unable to refuse to do what you wish about my mother.”
Joyselle’s face was very white.
“What do you mean? Do you mean that your love for me was a mere caprice, and that—it has gone?”
His agony was unconcealed, and as she gazed she smiled, for her own torture was nearly unbearable.
“I shouldn’t like to say it was only a caprice——” She hesitated, and he sank into a chair and buried his face in his hands.
Suddenly he rose and seizing her arm roughly, gave her another cue, which she remorselessly and instantly took.
“There is someone else,” he cried, utterly forgetting that the very day before she had loved him madly, “you love some other man. Tell me who it is!”
And with the extraordinary fortitude common to fanatics and furious women, she smiled and answered:
“Perhaps! Tout passe, mon cher.”
It was a cheap and melodramatic bit of acting, and any unprejudiced onlooker must have seen the agony in her face, but Joyselle was blinded by his own pain and fled from the room without another word.
She heard a door slam and knew that he had gone out. And the world came to an end for her.
It was about six o’clock, and Tommy had gone out with Theo. They would not be back until about eight.
Felicite, too, was out. She was alone. She saw Papillon, who was sitting up, looking at her with a world of sympathy in the cock of his ear.
Suddenly Brigit burst into tears, nervous, hysterical, noisy sobbing, as she had done that day in the olive grove at the Villa Arcadie. She had been living under great nervous strain for months, and these breakdowns were of appalling violence. She could not stop crying, and she could not reason and tell herself that he would come back and forgive her.