Kitty had joined him in Melbourne as arranged, and Gaston had established her in a place in Richmond. It was not a regular boarding-house, but the lady who owned it, Mrs Pulchop by name, was in the habit of letting apartments on reasonable terms; so Vandeloup had taken up his abode there with Kitty, who passed as his wife.
But though he paid her all the deference and respect due to a wife, and though she wore a marriage ring, yet, as a matter of fact, they were not married. Kitty had implored her lover to have the ceremony performed as soon as he joined her; but as the idea was not to M. Vandeloup’s taste, he had put her off, laughingly at first, then afterwards, when he began to weary of her, he said he could not marry her for at least a year. The reason he assigned for this was the convenient one of family affairs; but, in reality, he foresaw he would get tired of her in that time, and did not want to tie himself so that he could not leave her when he wished. At first, the girl had rebelled against this delay, for she was strongly biased by her religious training, and looked with horror on the state of wickedness in which she was living. But Gaston laughed at her scruples, and as time went on, her finer feelings became blunted, and she accepted the position to which she was reduced in an apathetic manner.
Sometimes she had wild thoughts of running away, but she still loved him too well to do so; and besides, there was no one to whom she could go, as she well knew her father would refuse to receive her. The anomalous position which she occupied, however, had an effect on her spirits, and from being a bright and happy girl, she became irritable and fretful. She refused to go out anywhere, and when she went into town, either avoided the principal streets, or wore a heavy veil, so afraid was she of being recognised by anyone from Ballarat and questioned as to how she lived. All this was very disagreeable to M. Vandeloup, who had a horror of being bored, and not finding Kitty’s society pleasant enough, he gradually ceased to care for her, and was now only watching for an opportunity to get rid of her without any trouble. He was a member of the Bachelor’s Club, a society of young men which had a bad reputation in Melbourne, and finding Kitty was so lachrymose, he took a room at the Club, and began to stay away four or five days at a time. So Kitty was left to herself, and grew sad and tearful, as she reflected on the consequence of her fatal passion for this man. Mrs Pulchop was vastly indignant at Vandeloup neglecting his wife, for, of course, she never thought she was anything else to the young man, and did all in her power to cheer the girl up, which, however, was not much, as Mrs Pulchop herself was decidedly of a funereal disposition.