“How can you think so cruelly of me, Victor,” she murmured. “You were always a little mistaken in Lucille. She loved you, it is true, but all her life she has been fond of change and excitement. She came to Europe willingly—long before this Brott would have been her slave save for your reappearance. Can’t you forget her —for a little while?”
Mr. Sabin sat quite still. Her hair brushed his cheeks, her arms were about his neck, her whole attitude was an invitation for his embrace. But he sat like a figure of stone, neither repulsing nor encouraging her.
“You need not be alone unless you like,” she whispered.
“I am an old man,” he said slowly, “and this is a hard blow for me to bear. I must be sure, absolutely sure that she has gone.”
“By this time to-morrow,” she murmured, “all the world will know it.”
“Come to me then,” he said. “I shall need consolation.”
Her eyes were bright with triumph. She leaned over him and kissed him on the lips. Then she sprang lightly to her feet.
“Wait here for me,” she said, “and I will come to you. You shall know, Victor, that Lucille is not the only woman in the world who has cared for you.”
There was a tap at the door. Lady Carey was busy adjusting her hat. Passmore entered, and stood hesitating upon the threshold. Mr. Sabin had risen to his feet. He took one of her hands and raised it to his lips. She gave him a swift, wonderful look and passed out.
Mr. Sabin’s manner changed as though by magic. He was at once alert and vigorous.
“My dear Passmore,” he said, “come to the table. We shall want those Continental time-tables and the London A.B.C. You will have to take a journey to-night.”
The two women were alone in the morning-room of Lady Carey’s house in Pont Street. Lucille was walking restlessly up and down twisting her handkerchief between her fingers. Lady Carey was watching her, more composed, to all outward appearance, but with closely compressed lips, and boding gleam in her eyes.
“I think,” Lady Carey said, “that you had better see him.”
Lucille turned almost fiercely upon her.
“Well, for one thing he will not understand your refusal. He may be suspicious.”
“What does it matter? I have finished with him. I have done all that I pledged myself to. What more can be expected of me? I do not wish to see him again.”
Lady Carey laughed.
“At least,” she said, “I think that the poor man has a right to receive his congé from you. You cannot break with him without a word of explanation. Perhaps—you may not find it so easy as it seems.”
Lucille swept around.
“What do you mean?”
Lady Carey shrugged her shoulders.
“You are in a curious mood, my dear Lucille. What I mean is obvious enough. Brott is a strong man and a determined man. I do not think that he will enjoy being made a fool of.”