Charley Beauchamp had never succeeded in dispelling the concerns he had carried away from Ouchy. Although he knew Helene under the vigilant chaperoning of Aunt Sophie, he was not reassured. He now found Mr. Ronald wrong and blamed his stubbornness; but, faithful to the American principle of not interfering in the affairs of others, he had not said a single word to urge him to go and fetch his wife. The sadness, the weariness which he saw marking itself more and more strongly on his face, gave him the hope that love would soon prevail over pride. In the meantime, the thought of the loneliness in which his sister found herself distressed him. She was too young and too beautiful to remain in Europe without the protection of a man. He told himself that his duty was to go join her and he began to arrange his affairs for a prolonged absence. It took him some time to do that. On learning of Dora’s engagement with Count Sant’Anna, he experienced a secret joy, a sudden relief, the cause of which he did not want to see. He was indignant at the young girl, sympathized deeply with Jack Ascott, but deep down he was very happy. The announcement of this marriage reminded him of Lucerne, Hélène’s floretting and a host of memories which prompted him to hasten his preparations. The day before his departure, he saw his brother-in-law and simply said to him: He was indignant at the young girl, sympathized deeply with Jack Ascott, but deep down he was very happy. The announcement of this marriage reminded him of Lucerne, Hélène’s floretting and a host of memories which prompted him to hasten his preparations. The day before his departure, he saw his brother-in-law and simply said to him: He was indignant at the young girl, sympathized deeply with Jack Ascott, but deep down he was very happy. The announcement of this marriage reminded him of Lucerne, Hélène’s floretting and a host of memories which prompted him to hasten his preparations. The day before his departure, he saw his brother-in-law and simply said to him:
– I am embarking tomorrow for Europe… You have no commission?
– Any ! replied Mr. Ronald, looking away to hide his emotion.
With that, Charley was gone. As he didn’t care to go to Rome and see Sant’Anna again, he decided to stop at Monte-Carlo, certain that Hélène would come and join him with pleasure.
Nothing alters a woman’s face as much as love or motherhood. When Charley saw his sister again, he was struck by her change.
– What happened to you ? he cried. Have you been ill?
Without knowing why, Mrs. Ronald blushed.
– Sick?… Not in the least!
Then with a feigned alarm:
– Am I then old, ugly!
– No, only different.
– That proves that you forgot me a little, because I always see myself the same, me!
Charley did not insist, but he was seized by this worry which, lately, had dominated his business concerns.
The change of environment gave Mrs. Ronald immediate relief. She was as if penetrated by the vibrant light of Monte-Carlo. The music, the flowers, the blue that surrounded her, acted on her in a beneficial way. Under the influence of these beautiful and sweet things, her heart gradually loosened, she thought she had come out of a nightmare. Dora’s first letter threw her back there, body and soul.
In this letter, where Lelo’s name came up in every line, the young girl told him that her marriage was fixed for the month of June and would probably take place in Paris … At the news of the event so close, Hélène expressed her indignation against Miss Carroll, his sympathy for Jack Ascott, so that Mr. Beauchamp’s face assumed a grave and pained expression; she didn’t even notice it. But immediately the sky, the sea, the divine landscape, seemed to her hard, of a dazzling sadness, – and she did not fail to attribute to the mistral the irritation caused by the pain which had awakened in her.
As a distraction, she tried the game and quickly developed a passion for roulette. Despite the reprimands of her brother and her aunt, she spent a good part of her time at the casino. She had a series of extraordinary luck. She was exulting then, she momentarily forgot Lelo and Dora. She was not long in being noticed; they called her “the beautiful American”, they say her a millionaire, they believed her widowed or divorced, and nothing less than the constant presence of M. Beauchamp was necessary to ensure her freedom and to keep adventure seekers in check.
One afternoon when Charley was in Cannes to see a sick compatriot, Helene went to the casino with friends from Boston. The latter lingered at the thirty-forty table. She, who liked a more lively game, was quick to let go of them to run at the fascinating roulette. A young dark-haired man in a red tie, studded with a large black pearl, who for a week had been attached to her footsteps, followed her there and slipped behind her. Madame Ronald persisted in placing a small stack of nine louis on the number nine which, when she woke up in the morning, had come to her mind: she was sure he would come out. Four times already, his expectations had been disappointed. Panting, she followed the dealer’s operation and tried to suggest him by the effect of her will,
She turned, her eyes flashing, her face pale with anger; as in a dream, she suddenly saw her husband appear near her and, with a formidable punch, push aside her insolent admirer. In the midst of the stampede, she distinctly heard the dialogue of the two men.
– Your card ! your card!… You will prove me right! said one, with a strong foreign accent.
– I don’t have to prove you right, replied the other, I surprised you insulting my wife: I chastised you in the American way; it was my right. I am satisfied.
Always under the impression of the unreal, of a kind of horror, produced by the multitude of eyes which looked at her, Helene seized the arm of Mr. Ronald, pressed against him and let herself be carried away. When she was out of the casino only and in the open air, she realized that all of this had happened. Then, freeing her arm, she stopped short, looked up at her husband with astonished eyes and, in a somewhat hoarse voice:
– Henri, where do you come from?
Without answering right away, Mr. Ronald looked with admiration at the beautiful face he had not seen for so long.
– I’m getting off the train, my darling, – he said at last, with a touched smile. – I saw Aunt Sophie; she told me you were at the casino with the Carringtons; I wanted to surprise you and I arrived on time. I did not quite know what reception I would receive; I made the trip with a weight of a hundred pounds on my mind… and a novel incident forced you to take my arm back. That’s wonderful ! it is providential!
Helene began to walk again.
– I thought you would never decide to come! she said a little coldly.
– And that I would let the year go by without giving you any sign of life?… But you could have asked for a divorce because of abandonment!
The young woman could not help blushing: she had thought about it!
– Did Charley call you here? she said, trying to fight her emotion.
– Charley? No, my dear: he does not know my arrival. I learned indirectly that you had left Rome for Monte-Carlo. No one called me. I came because, without you, life was an unbearable burden on me. I have suffered a lot, especially in the last few months; for nothing in the world would I want to go through such an ordeal again. We were both wrong, let’s forgive each other.
With these words, the couple arrived in front of the Hôtel des Anglais. Mr. Ronald followed his wife home. As soon as the door closed, he opened his arms to her: she fell on his chest. And there, as she listened to the passionate beating of that strong, manly heart, the image of Lelo, a disproportionate image, rose up behind her forehead. Awareness came to her, like love at first sight, of her love for the young man. She gently pulled herself away from her husband’s embrace and looked at him with that painful, pathetic expression of the affected animal; then, with dry white lips, she stammered, not really knowing what she was saying:
– Why did you take so long? Why did you take so long? …