“That’s all,” he replied quietly.
She crossed the room swiftly to his side.
“Then, if that’s all, Dan, we—we won’t speak of it again—ever,” she said steadily. “It—it was just a mistake. It need never come between us. You’ll get over it, and I”—her small head reared itself bravely—“I’ll forget it.”
The pathetic courage of her! Storran turned away with a groan.
“No,” he answered. “I shan’t ‘get over it.’ When a man loves a woman as I love Magda he doesn’t ‘get over it.’ That’s what I meant when I told you she had robbed you.”
“You will get over it, Dan,” she persisted. “I’ll help you.”
“You can’t,” he returned doggedly. “You, least of all! Every touch of your hand—I should be thinking what her touch would have meant! The sound of your step—I’d be listening for hers!”
He saw her wince. He wanted to kick himself for hurting her like this. But he knew what he intended doing; and sooner or later she must know too. It would be better for her in the long run to face it now than to be endlessly waiting and hoping and longing for what he knew could never be.
“Dan, I’ll be very patient. Don’t you think—if you tried—you could conquer this love of yours for Miss Vallincourt?”
He shook his head.
“It’s conquered me, June. It’s—it’s torture!”
“It will be easier now she’s gone away,” she suggested.
“Gone away? . . . Aye, as far as London! And in five hours I could be with her—see her again——”
He broke off. At the bare thought his heart was pounding against his ribs, his breath labouring in his throat.
“Won’t you try, Dan?” Even to herself June’s voice sounded faint and far away.
“It would be useless.” He got up and strode aimlessly back and forth, coming at last to a standstill in front of her. “A man knows his own limits, June. And I’ve reached mine. England can’t hold the two of us.”
June gave a little stifled cry.
“What do you mean? You’re not—you’re not going to leave me? To go abroad—now?”
There would be need for him in England soon—in a few months. But of course he couldn’t know that. Should she tell him. Tell him why he must not leave her now? Keep him with her by a sure and certain chain—the knowledge that she was soon to be the mother of his child?
She debated the question wildly in her mind, tempted to tell him, yet feeling that even if then he stayed with her it would not be because he loved her or had ceased to care for Miss Vallincourt, but only because he was impelled by a sense of duty. And her pride rebelled against holding him by that.
His voice broke in upon her conflicting thoughts.
“Yes. I’m going abroad. It’s the only thing, June. I can’t stay in England—and keep away from her.”
June was silent a moment. Then she said in a very low voice, almost as though speaking to herself: