“How so?” said Alresca in a curious whisper. “I have nothing to keep from you, my dear child.”
“Yes,” she said, “you are keeping something from me. This afternoon you told Sir Cyril that you were expecting a misfortune. Well, the misfortune has occurred to you. How did you guess that it was coming? Then, to-night, as they were carrying you away on that stretcher, do you remember what you said?”
“What did I say?”
“You remember, don’t you?” Rosa faltered.
“I remember,” he admitted. “But that was nonsense. I didn’t know what I was saying. My poor Rosa, I was delirious. And that is just why I wished to see you—in order to explain to you that that was nonsense. You must forget what I said. Remember only that I love you.”
("So Emmeline was right,” I reflected.)
Abruptly Rosa stood up.
“You must not love me, Alresca,” she said in a shaking voice. “You ask me to forget something; I will try. You, too, must forget something—your love.”
“But last night,” he cried, in accents of an almost intolerable pathos—“last night, when I hinted—you did not—did not speak like this, Rosetta.”
I rose. I had surely no alternative but to separate them. If I allowed the interview to be prolonged the consequences to my patient might be extremely serious. Yet again I hesitated. It was the sound of Rosa’s sobbing that arrested me.
Once more she dropped to her knees.
“Alresca!” she moaned.
He seized her hand and kissed it.
And then I came forward, summoning all my courage to assert the doctor’s authority. And in the same instant Alresca’s features, which had been the image of intense joy, wholly changed their expression, and were transformed into the embodiment of fear. With a look of frightful terror he pointed with one white hand to the blank wall opposite. He tried to sit up, but the splint prevented him. Then his head fell back.
“It is there!” he moaned. “Fatal! My Rosa—”
The words died in his mouth, and he swooned.
As for Rosetta Rosa, I led her from the room.
Everyone knows the Gold Rooms at the Grand Babylon on the Embankment. They are immense, splendid, and gorgeous; they possess more gold leaf to the square inch than any music-hall in London. They were designed to throw the best possible light on humanity in the mass, to illuminate effectively not only the shoulders of women, but also the sombreness of men’s attire. Not a tint on their walls that has not been profoundly studied and mixed and laid with a view to the great aim. Wherefore, when the electric clusters glow in the ceiling, and the “after-dinner” band (that unique corporation of British citizens disguised as wild Hungarians) breathes and pants out its after-dinner melodies from the raised platform in the main salon, people regard this coup d’oeil with awe, and feel glad that they are in the dazzling picture, and even the failures who are there imagine that they have succeeded. Wherefore, also, the Gold Rooms of the Grand Babylon are expensive, and only philanthropic societies, plutocrats, and the Titans of the theatrical world may persuade themselves that they can afford to engage them.