“Patty, are you ill?” hastening toward her.
“I have a very bad headache,” coldly. “You wished to see me?”
Where were all the tender words he had planned to speak? Patty had been weeping!
“You have been crying. What has happened?” anxiously.
“It can not interest you,” wearily. Men! She would have a horror of them for the rest of her days.
“Not interest me? Don’t you know, haven’t you seen by this time, that you interest me more than any other living being or any angel in Heaven?”
Patty caught at the portiere to steady herself. She had not expected declarations of this kind.
“Don’t you know,” he hurried on, his voice gaining in passion and tenderness, “don’t you know that a pain to you means triple pain to me? Don’t you know that I love you? Patty, what is the trouble? You are not a woman to weep over headaches.”
“Do you wish to know, then?” bitterly. She hated him! How could he stand there telling her that he loved her? “Read this,” presenting the letter. “I despise you!”
“Despise me? What in God’s name is the matter?”
“Read, read!” vehemently.
Once the letter was in his hand, her arms dropped to her sides, tense. It was best so, to have it over with at once. To crush the thought of him out of her heart for ever, such a remedy was necessary. She watched him. His hand fell slowly. It would have been difficult to say which of the two was the whiter.
“You speak of love to me?”
He stood there, stunned. His silence spoke eloquently to her. He was guilty. She leaped to this conclusion at once, not realizing that no man can immediately defend himself when accused so abruptly.
“You speak of love!” Her wrath seemed to scorch her lips. “My poor brother!”
Warrington straightened. “Do you believe this?” He threw the letter aside, as if the touch contaminated him, caring not where it fell.
“Is it true?”
“An anonymous letter?” he replied, contemptuously.
“I know who wrote it.”
“You know who wrote it? Who?” There was terrible anger in his voice now.
“I decline to answer.”
“So you give me not even the benefit of a doubt! You believe it!”
Patty was less observant than usual. “Will you please go now? I do not think there is anything more to be said.”
“No. I will go.” He spoke quietly, but like a man who has received his death-stroke. “One question more. Did McQuade write that letter?”
He picked up his hat. “So much for my dreams! Deny it? Deny calumny of the anonymous order? No! Defend myself against such a lie? No!”
He walked from the room, his head erect. He did not turn to look at her again. The hall door closed. He was gone.