Her eyes fell on the picture that reminded her of Bryan; it seemed now to have no resemblance—none. He was much too real, and loved, and wanted. Less than twenty-four hours ago, she had turned a deaf ear to his pleading that she should go to him for ever. How funny! Would she not rush to him now—go when and where he liked? Ah, if only she were back in his arms! Never could she give him up—never! But then in her ears sounded the cooing words, “Dear mum!” Her baby—that tiny thing—how could she give her up, and never again hold close and kiss that round, perfect little body, that grave little dark-eyed face?
The roar of London came in through the open window. So much life, so many people—and not a soul could help! She left the window and went to the cottage-piano she had there, out of Winton’s way. But she only sat with arms folded, looking at the keys. The song that girl had sung at Fiorsen’s concert—song of the broken heart—came back to her.
No, no; she couldn’t—couldn’t! It was to her lover she would cling. And tears ran down her cheeks.
A cab had stopped below, but not till Betty came rushing in did she look up.
When, trembling all over, she entered the dining-room, Fiorsen was standing by the sideboard, holding the child.
He came straight up and put her into Gyp’s arms.
“Take her,” he said, “and do what you will. Be happy.”
Hugging her baby, close to the door as she could get, Gyp answered nothing. Her heart was in such a tumult that she could not have spoken a word to save her life; relieved, as one dying of thirst by unexpected water; grateful, bewildered, abashed, yet instinctively aware of something evanescent and unreal in his altruism. Daphne Wing! What bargain did this represent?
Fiorsen must have felt the chill of this instinctive vision, for he cried out:
“Yes! You never believed in me; you never thought me capable of good! Why didn’t you?”
Gyp bent her face over her baby to hide the quivering of her lips.
“I am sorry—very, very sorry.”
Fiorsen came closer and looked into her face.
“By God, I am afraid I shall never forget you—never!”
Tears had come into his eyes, and Gyp watched them, moved, troubled, but still deeply mistrusting.
He brushed his hand across his face; and the thought
flashed through her:
‘He means me to see them! Ah, what a cynical wretch I am!’
Fiorsen saw that thought pass, and muttering suddenly:
“Good-bye, Gyp! I am not all bad. I am not!” He tore the door open and was gone.
That passionate “I am not!” saved Gyp from a breakdown. No; even at his highest pitch of abnegation, he could not forget himself.
Relief, if overwhelming, is slowly realized; but when, at last, what she had escaped and what lay before her were staring full in each other’s face, it seemed to her that she must cry out, and tell the whole world of her intoxicating happiness. And the moment little Gyp was in Betty’s arms, she sat down and wrote to Summerhay: