“A divorce—or something—I don’t know. But I have heard that he almost had to leave the schools. If it hadn’t been for Professor Russell standing up for him, they say he would have had to leave.”
“Was he divorced, do you mean?”
“No, but he got himself mixed up in a divorce case. I forget the particulars, but I know it was something very disagreeable. It was among artistic people.”
Ann Veronica was silent for a while.
“I thought every one had heard,” said Miss Klegg. “Or I wouldn’t have said anything about it.”
“I suppose all men,” said Ann Veronica, in a tone of detached criticism, “get some such entanglement. And, anyhow, it doesn’t matter to us.” She turned abruptly at right angles to the path they followed. “This is my way back to my side of the Park,” she said.
“I thought you were coming right across the Park.”
“Oh no,” said Ann Veronica; “I have some work to do. I just wanted a breath of air. And they’ll shut the gates presently. It’s not far from twilight.”
She was sitting brooding over her fire about ten o’clock that night when a sealed and registered envelope was brought up to her.
She opened it and drew out a letter, and folded within it were the notes she had sent off to Ramage that day. The letter began:
“My dearest girl,—I cannot let you do this foolish thing—”
She crumpled notes and letter together in her hand, and then with a passionate gesture flung them into the fire. Instantly she seized the poker and made a desperate effort to get them out again. But she was only able to save a corner of the letter. The twenty pounds burned with avidity.
She remained for some seconds crouching at the fender, poker in hand.
“By Jove!” she said, standing up at last, “that about finishes it, Ann Veronica!”
CHAPTER THE TENTH
“There is only one way out of all this,” said Ann Veronica, sitting up in her little bed in the darkness and biting at her nails.
“I thought I was just up against Morningside Park and father, but it’s the whole order of things—the whole blessed order of things....”
She shivered. She frowned and gripped her hands about her knees very tightly. Her mind developed into savage wrath at the present conditions of a woman’s life.
“I suppose all life is an affair of chances. But a woman’s life is all chance. It’s artificially chance. Find your man, that’s the rule. All the rest is humbug and delicacy. He’s the handle of life for you. He will let you live if it pleases him....
“Can’t it be altered?
“I suppose an actress is free?...”