Susie stared without comprehension at the note that announced Margaret’s marriage. It was sent from the Gare du Nord and ran as follows:
When you receive this I shall be on my way to London. I was married to Oliver Haddo this morning. I love him as I never loved Arthur. I have not told him anything because I had gone too far to make an explanation possible. Please tell him.
Susie did not know what to do or what to think. There was a knock at the door, and she knew it must be Arthur. She decided quickly that it was impossible to break the news to him at once. Making up her mind, she opened the door.
“…Oh, I’m so sorry. Margaret isn’t here,” she said. “A friend of hers is ill and sent for her suddenly.”
“What a pity!” answered Arthur. “Mrs. Bloomfield as usual, I suppose. Margaret has spent nearly every afternoon with her for some days.”
Susie did not answer. This was the
first time she had heard of Mrs. Bloomfield’s illness, and it was news for her that Margaret visited her.
“Won’t you come back at five o’clock?” she said.
“Oh, all right. Then I’ll come back at five.”
He nodded and went out. Susie read the brief note once more, and asked herself if it could possibly be true. She went to Margaret’s room and saw that everything was in its place. But then she noticed that a number of letters had disappeared. She went out. At the door it occurred to her to ask the conceirge if she knew where Margaret had gone that morning.
“Yes, mademoiselle,” answered the old Woman. “I heard her tell the coachman to go to the British Consulate.”
Susie drove then to Mrs. Bloomfield and asked her about Margaret.
“I’ve not seen Margaret for three weeks,” said the invalid.
‘Haven’t you? I thought she dropped in quite often.” Susie spoke as though the matter was of no Importance. She asked herself where Margaret could have spent those afternoons. On leaving Mrs. Bloomfield she went to the Consulate and learnt that Margaret and Haddo had been married. Then nothing remained but to go home and wait for Arthur. At last he came. He entered joyfully and looked around.
“Is Margaret not here yet?” he asked with surprise.
‘Won’t you sit down?”
He did not notice that her voice was hoarse, nor that she tried not to look at him.
“Mr. Burdon, I have something to say to you. It will cause you very great pain.”
He noticed now the hoarseness of her tone. He sprang to his feet and a terrible thought flashed across his brain. Something horrible had happened to Margaret. She was ill. His terror was so great that he trembled from head to foot. Susie tried to speak, but she could not. Her voice broke, and she began to cry. She gave him the letter.
“What does it mean?”
He looked at her without understanding. Then she told him all that she had learnt that day and the places where she had been.
Arthur sat down and leaned his head on his hands. They remained in perfect silence. Susie suffered as much as he did. Her impulse was to throw herself on her knees, and kiss his hands, and comfort him; but she knew that he was interested in her only because she was Margaret’s friend. At last he got up and taking his pips from his pocket filled it silently. His face expressed such suffering that it was terrible to look upon.
“I can’t believe it’s true,” he answered. “I can’t believe it.”
There was a knock at the door, and Arthur rushed to the door.
“Perhaps she’s come back.” But it was Dr. Porhoet.
“How do you do?” said the Frenchman. “What’s happening?” He looked round and caught the dismay that was on the faces of Arthur and Susie.
“Where is Miss.