“Some men marry actresses to gratify their vanity; does this man love you?”
“Yes; and he will make me what Heaven intended I should be—a woman. Oh, I have uttered no deceit. This man will take me for what I am.”
“And you have come here to-night to ask me to forget, too?” There was no bitterness in his tone, but there was a strong leaven of regret. “Well, I promise to forget.”
“It was not necessary to ask you that,” generously. “But I thought I would come to you and tell you everything. I did not wish you to misjudge me. For the world will say that I am marrying this good man for his money; whereas, if he was a man of the most moderate circumstances, I should still marry him.”
“And who might this lucky man be? To win a woman, such as I know you to be, this man must have some extraordinary attributes.” And all at once a sense of infinite relief entered into his heart: if she were indeed married, there would no longer be that tantalizing doubt on his part, that peculiar attraction which at one time resembled love and at another time was simply fascination. She would pass out of his life definitely. He perfectly recognized the fact that he admired her above all other women he knew; but it was also apparent that to see her day by day, year by year, his partner in the commonplaces as well as in the heights, romance would become threadbare quickly enough. “Who is he?” he repeated.
“That I prefer not to disclose to you just yet. What are you going to call your new play?” with a wave of her hand toward the manuscript.
“I had intended to call it Love and Money, but the very name presages failure.”
“Yes, it needs the cement of compatibility to keep the two together.”
“Well, from my heart I wish you all the best luck in the world,” he said, the absence of any mental reservation in his eyes. “You would make any man a good wife. If I weren’t a born fool—”
She leaned toward him, her face suddenly tense and eager.
“—if I weren’t a born fool,” with a smile that was whimsical, “I’d have married you myself, long ago. But fate has cut me out for a bachelor.” He knocked the ash from a cold pipe, filled and lighted it. “By the way,” he said, “I received a curious letter to-day.” Its production would relieve the awkwardness of the moment. “Would you like to see it?” opening the drawer and handing the letter to her. “It’s one of the few letters of the sort I’m going to keep.”
She accepted the letter, but without any spirit of interest. For a moment a thought had all but swept her off her feet; yet she realized instantly that this thought was futile. Warrington did not love her; and there was nothing to do but to follow out the course she had planned. She had come to him that night with a single purpose in mind: to plumb the very heart of this man who was an enigma to every woman he met. She had plumbed it. Warrington loved nobody but Warrington and pleasure. Oh, he was capable of the grand passion, she very well knew, but the woman to arouse it had not yet crossed his path.