‘Then see.’ She took the stopper out of the bottle and held it to her lips. Vandeloup did not stir, but, still smoking, stood looking at her with a smile. His utter callousness was too much for her, and replacing the stopper again, she slipped the bottle into her pocket and let her hands fall idly by her side.
‘I thought you would not do it,’ replied Gaston, smoothly, looking at his watch; ’you must really excuse me, I hear the cab wheels outside.’
Kitty, however, placed herself in front of him as he moved towards the door.
‘Listen to me,’ she said, in a harsh voice, with white face and flaming eyes; ‘to-night I leave this house for ever.’
He bowed his head.
‘As it pleases you,’ he replied, simply.
‘My God!’ she cried, ‘have you no love for me now?’
‘No,’ he answered, coldly and brutally, ‘I am tired of you.’
She fell on her knees and clutched his hand.
‘Dear Gaston! dear Gaston!’ she cried, covering it with kisses, ’think how young I am, how my life is ruined, and by you. I gave up everything for your sake—home, father, and friends—you will not cast me off like this after all I have sacrificed for you? Oh, for God’s sake, speak—speak!’
‘My dear,’ said Vandeloup, gravely, looking down at the kneeling figure with the streaming eyes and clenched hands, ’as long as you choose to stay here I will be your friend—I cannot afford to marry you, but while you are with me our lives will be as they have been; good-bye at present,’ touching her forehead coldly with his lips, ’I will call to-morrow afternoon to see how you are, and I trust this will be the last of such scenes.’
He drew his hand away from hers, and she sat on the floor dull and silent, with her eyes fixed on the ground and an aching in her heart. Vandeloup went into the hall, put on his hat, then lighting another cigarette and taking his stick, walked gaily out of the house, humming an air from ‘La Belle Helene’. The cab was waiting for him at the door, and telling the man to drive to the Bachelors’ Club, he entered the cab and rattled away down the street without a thought for the broken-hearted woman he left behind.
Kitty sat on the floor with her folded hands lying carelessly on her lap and her eyes staring idly at the carpet. This, then, was the end of all her hopes and joys—she was cast aside carelessly by this man now that he wearied of her. Love’s young dream had been sweet indeed; but, ah! how bitter was the awakening. Her castles in the air had all melted into clouds, and here in the very flower of her youth she felt that her life was ruined, and she was as one wandering in a sterile waste, with a black and starless sky overhead. She clasped her hands with a sensation of pain, and a rose at her breast fell down withered and dead. She took it up with listless fingers, and with the quiver of her hand the leaves fell off and were scattered over