Gyp stayed in her room doing little things—as a woman will when she is particularly wretched—sewing pale ribbons into her garments, polishing her rings. And the devil that had entered into her when she woke that morning, having had his fling, slunk away, leaving the old bewildered misery. She had stabbed her lover with words and looks, felt pleasure in stabbing, and now was bitterly sad. What use—what satisfaction? How by vengeful prickings cure the deep wound, disperse the canker in her life? How heal herself by hurting him whom she loved so? If he came up again now and made but a sign, she would throw herself into his arms. But hours passed, and he did not come, and she did not go down—too truly miserable. It grew dark, but she did not draw the curtains; the sight of the windy moonlit garden and the leaves driving across brought a melancholy distraction. Little Gyp came in and prattled. There was a tree blown down, and she had climbed on it; they had picked up two baskets of acorns, and the pigs had been so greedy; and she had been blown away, so that Betty had had to run after her. And Baryn was walking in the study; he was so busy he had only given her one kiss.
When she was gone, Gyp opened the window and let the wind full into her face. If only it would blow out of her heart this sickening sense that all was over, no matter how he might pretend to love her out of pity! In a nature like hers, so doubting and self-distrustful, confidence, once shaken to the roots, could never be restored. A proud nature that went all lengths in love could never be content with a half-love. She had been born too doubting, proud, and jealous, yet made to love too utterly. She—who had been afraid of love, and when it came had fought till it swept her away; who, since then, had lived for love and nothing else, who gave all, and wanted all—knew for certain and for ever that she could not have all.
It was “nothing” he had said! Nothing! That for months he had been thinking at least a little of another woman besides herself. She believed what he had told her, that there had been no more than a kiss—but was it nothing that they had reached that kiss? This girl—this cousin—who held all the cards, had everything on her side—the world, family influence, security of life; yes, and more, so terribly much more—a man’s longing for the young and unawakened. This girl he could marry! It was this thought which haunted her. A mere momentary outbreak of man’s natural wildness she could forgive and forget—oh, yes! It was the feeling that it was a girl, his own cousin, besieging him, dragging him away, that was so dreadful. Ah, how horrible it was—how horrible! How, in decent pride, keep him from her, fetter him?
She heard him come up to his dressing-room, and while he was still there, stole out and down. Life must go on, the servants be hoodwinked, and so forth. She went to the piano and played, turning the dagger in her heart, or hoping forlornly that music might work some miracle. He came in presently and stood by the fire, silent.