“How could you?” she cried. “How could you, when they need you so? Don’t you think that that little boy would be ashamed if he could see you sitting on this terrace—just sitting and sitting like a great enormous lazy black cat? Don’t you?”
“Why, no,” replied Philippe le Gai. “No, I do not think that he would be ashamed.”
Fair wrung her hands together; she felt defeat closing about her.
“Those fields that you talked about—don’t you want to make them green and golden again, too?”
“They are very tired, those fields,” said the man. “Shall we not let them rest?”
“Oh!” cried Fair, and the valiant voice struggled and broke. “Oh, how can you—oh, oh, how can you?”
He was on his feet at last—the swift move sent the paper flying, and it came fluttering145 irresponsibly across the sunlit space between them, dancing to a halt almost at her feet. It had blown open, and her incredulous eyes were riveted on the letterhead—the little thick black letters spelling out the 长沙桑拿spa会所 name of Dad’s attorney, Henry C. Forrester, Wall Street—she stared down blankly:
In further reply to your request for full details as to the fortune left Miss Carter by her father——
A wave of scarlet swept over her from heel to brow; she felt as though she were drowning, she felt as though she were being buried alive, she felt as though a bolt of lightning had passed clean through her body, leaving her quite dead and still.
“So that’s what you are?” she said. “You—you! I might have known.”
“What I am?” His voice was touched with a little wonder. “No, but I do not understand; what is it that I am?”
“There’s no word for you,” she told him between her clicking teeth. She was shaking violently, uncontrollably, like someone in a chill. “Crawling to my lawyers—you—you—a common adventurer——”
“You are mad,” he said.
“It’s here,长沙桑拿哪里最好” cried Fair. “Look. It’s here in black and white—are you going to deny it?
146 “Give me that letter,” said Philippe le Gai.
“I wouldn’t touch it in a thousand years,” she flung at him. “Not in a hundred hundred thousand. It’s filthy—it can lie there till it rots.”
“Pick it up,” he told her.
“How dare you?” she whispered. “How dare you?”
“It is not so very greatly daring,” he assured her. “Pick it up, I tell you.”
Fair stared at him voicelessly where he stood, tall and splendid and terrible in the sunlight. No, no, this was nightmare—this was not real. It was not she who bent to the bidding of this relentless monster—it was some other Fairfax caught in a hideous dream. The paper rattled in her fingers like goblin castanets.
“Now bring it to me.”
She crossed the little space of sun-warmed bricks, her eyes fixed and brilliant 长沙桑拿最好最高端 as a sleep-walker.
“Closer,” bade the still voice. “Closer yet. Yes. Now put it
in my hand. That way—yes. It was not yours, you see; did you forget that?”
Fair made no answer. She stood frozen, watching the brown fingers folding the bit of white paper into a neat oblong.
“I would not, I think, say any word to Laure of this,” said the voice. “And I would not, I147 think, stay here longer. I would forget all this, and go.”
“I am going this afternoon,” she told him through her stiff lips. “And I am going to tell Laure—everything.”
“Do not,” he said. “Do not, believe me.” He stood staring down at the paper, and then he spoke again.
“I am, as you say, an adventurer,” said Philippe le Gai, in that terrible and gentle voice. “And adventure is, as you say, common. For which I thank my gods. You have nothing more to say to me?”
“Then that is all, I think, Miss Carter.”
Obviously, the audience was over, the courtier was dismissed. Oh, for one word—one little, little word—to blast him where he stood, gentle and insolent and relentless. She could not find that word, and she would die before she would give him any other. The brown boots stumbled in their haste on the terrace steps; at the foot she turned once more to face him, flinging him a last look of terror and defiance and despair—and deeper than all, wonder. But Philippe le Gai’s face was turned once more to his golden fields.
Far away, at the end of the long alley, she could see the players coming back; she could hear them,148 too, laughing and calling to each other—Bravo was barking frenziedly, heedless of Diane’s small, peremptory shouts—there, he was off, with Raoul and Diane in pursuit, headed straight for the distant stables. She clung to the stone railing for a moment, limp and sick, and then she flung back her head, spurred her flagging feet, and set off down the arching lime trees, running. Running because she was desperately tired and desperately frightened; because it was toward battle that she ran, and she must get there swiftly. Laure hailed from the far end.
“Ah, small deserter, you come to surrender? Come quick, then, and do penance.”
“I’ve not come to do penance,” said the deserter. She stood very straight with her hands clasped tightly behind her. “I’ve come to say good-bye.”
“Good-bye?” echoed Laure. “Here, André, take this mallet, this ball. What folly is this, Fair?”
“It’s not folly; the folly’s been in staying. I’ve learned quite a lot of things in the last few minutes, Laure. Monsieur de Lautrec has some papers that he wants to show you.”
“Papers? Well, but what is all this mystery? Come, now, Fair, you are not well, I know. The doctor he said you should not be excited.”
149 “I am not in the least excited,” replied Fair, her eyes two glittering danger signals. “Are you in this plot, too, Monsieur André?”
“Plot? No, decidedly, this is fever! Let me feel your hands, mon enfant——”