“You’ve done that,” he said, forcing a laugh.
“Have I?... I knew it.... You see, I am horridly truthful to-night. In vino veritas! ... Tell me—did I, all by myself, turn that too-experienced head of yours?”
“You’re doing it now,” he said.
She laughed deliciously. “Now? Am I? Yes, I know I am. I’ve made a lot of men think hard to-night.... I didn’t know I could; I never before thought of it.... And—even you, too?... You’re not very serious, are you?”
“Yes, I am. I tell you, Geraldine, I’m about as much in love with you as——”
“Yes, I am——”
But she would not have it put so crudely.
“You dear boy,” she said, “we’ll both be quite sane to-morrow.... No, I don’t mind your kissing my hand—I’m dreadfully tired, anyway.... We’ll find Kathleen, shall we? My head doesn’t buzz much.”
“Geraldine,” he said, deliberately encircling her waist, “you are only the same small girl I used to know, after all.”
[Illustration: “‘Duane!’ she gasped—’why did you?’”]
“Y-yes, I’m afraid so.”
“And you’re not really old enough to really care for anybody, are you?”
“No, I’m not. Don’t talk to me that way, Duane.”
He drew her suddenly into his arms and kissed her on the cheek twice, and again on the mouth, as, crimson, breathless, she strained away from him.
“Duane!” she gasped—“why did you?” Then the throbbing of her body and crushed lips made her furious. “Why did you do that?” she cried fiercely—but her voice ended in a dry sob; she covered her head and face with bare arms; her hands tightened convulsively and clenched.
“Oh,” she said, “how could you!—when I came to you—feeling—afraid of myself! I know you now. You are what they say you are.”
“What do they say I am?” he stammered.
“Horrid—I don’t know—wild!—whatever that implies.... I didn’t care—I didn’t care even to understand, because I thought you generous and nice to me—and I was so confident of you that I came with you and told you I had had some champagne which made my head swim.... And you—did this! It—it was contemptible.”
He bit his lip, but said nothing.
“Why did you do it?” she demanded, dropping her arms from her face and staring at him. “Is that the sort of thing you did abroad?”
“Can’t you see I’m in love with you?” he said.
“Oh! Is that love? Then keep it for your models and—and Bohemian grisettes! A decent man couldn’t have done such a thing to me. I—I loathe myself for being silly and weak enough to have touched that wine, but I have more contempt for you than I have for myself. What you did was cowardly!”
Much of the colour had fled from her face; her eyes, bluish underneath the lower lids, turned wearily, helplessly in search of Kathleen.