“No, I never forget anything,” she answered, rising.
Fred detained her an instant, saying, in a low voice:
“Forgive me. This moment, Jacqueline, is decisive. I must have an answer. I never shall speak to you again of my sorrow. But decide now—on the spot. Is all ended between us?”
“Not our old friendship, Fred,” said Jacqueline, tears rising in her eyes.
“So be it, then, if you so will it. But our friendship never will show itself unless you are in need of friendship, and then only with the discretion that your present attitude toward me has imposed.”
“Are you ready, Mademoiselle,” said Gerard, who, to allow them to end their conversation, had obligingly turned his attention to some madrigals that Colette Odinska was laughing over.
Jacqueline shook her head resolutely, though at that moment her heart felt as if it were in a vise, and the moisture in her eyes looked like anything but a refusal. Then, without giving herself time for further thought, she whirled away into the dance with M. de Cymier. It was over, she had flung to the winds her chance for happiness, and wounded a heart more cruelly than Hubert Marien had ever wounded hers. The most horrible thing in this unending warfare we call love is that we too often repay to those who love us the harm that has been done us by those whom we have loved. The seeds of mistrust and perversity sown by one man or by one woman bear fruit to be gathered by some one else.
A COMEDY AND A TRAGEDY
The departure of Frederic d’Argy for Tonquin occasioned a break in the intercourse between his mother and the family of De Nailles. The wails of Hecuba were nothing to the lamentations of poor Madame d’Argy; the unreasonableness of her wrath and the exaggeration in her reproaches hindered even Jacqueline from feeling all the remorse she might otherwise have felt for her share in Fred’s departure. She told her father, who the first time in her life addressed her with some severity, that she could not be expected to love all the young men who might threaten to go to the wars, or to fling themselves from fourth-story windows, for her sake.
“It was very indelicate and inconsiderate of Fred to tell any one that it was my fault that he was doing anything so foolish,” she said, with true feminine deceit, “but he has taken the very worst possible means to make me care for him. Everybody has too much to say about this matter which concerns only him and me. Even Giselle thought proper to write me a sermon!”
And she gave vent to her feelings in an exclamation of three syllables that she had learned from the Odinskas, which meant: “I don’t care!” (je m’en moque).