He only knew that it was almost time for him to make his meaning clear to her in terms which might not be misunderstood. As he entered the obscurity of the loggia, he saw the head and shoulders of a figure in white above the back of the stone bench.
“You wanted to see me?” he said.
At the sound of his voice, the figure rose, stood poised breathless, and he saw that it was not Nina.
“I?” Jane’s voice answered.
He stopped and the cigarette slipped from his fingers.
“I—I beg pardon. I was told that——”
“That I wanted to see you?” she broke in scornfully.
“No. Not you—” he replied, still puzzled.
“There has been a mistake, Mr. Gallatin. I do not want to see you. If you’ll excuse me——”
She made a movement to go, but Gallatin stood in the aperture, the only avenue of escape, and did not move. His hands were at his sides, his head bent forward, his eyes gazing into the pool .
“Wait—” he muttered, as though to himself. “Don’t go yet. I’ve something to say—just a word—it will not take a moment. Will you listen?”
“I suppose I—I must,” she stammered.
“I hear—” he began painfully, “that it’s true that you’re going to marry Mr. Van Duyn.”
“And what if it is?” she flashed at him.
“Nothing—except that I hope you’ll be happy. I wish you——”
“Thanks,” dryly. “When I’m ready for the good wishes—of—of anybody, I’ll ask for them. At present—will you let me pass, please?”
“Yes—in a moment. I thought perhaps you might be willing to tell me whether it’s true, the report of your engagement?”
“I can’t see how that can be any interest of yours.”
“Only the interest of one you once cared for and who——”
“Mr. Gallatin, I forbid it,” she said hurriedly. “Would you be so unmanly as to take advantage of your position here? Isn’t it enough that I no longer care to know you, that I prefer to choose my own friends ?”