His heart leapt. If she spoke truth, then indeed vengeance was his! But “What proof have I?” he asked her.
“Proof? Have men absolutely NO intuition? If you need proof, produce it. Where are my ear-rings?”
Impatiently she pointed to two white pearls that fastened the front of her blouse. “These are your studs. It was from them I had the great first hint this morning.”
“Black and pink, were they not, when you took them?”
“Of course. And then I forgot that I had them. When I undressed, they must have rolled on to the carpet. Melisande found them this morning when she was making the room ready for me to dress. That was just after she came back from bringing you my first letter. I was bewildered. I doubted. Might not the pearls have gone back to their natural state simply through being yours no more? That is why I wrote again to you, my own darling—a frantic little questioning letter. When I heard how you had torn it up, I knew, I knew that the pearls had not mocked me. I telescoped my toilet and came rushing round to you. How many hours have I been waiting for you?”
The Duke had drawn her ear-rings from his waistcoat pocket, and was contemplating them in the palm of his hand. Blanched, both of them, yes. He laid them on the table. “Take them,” he said.
“No,” she shuddered. “I could never forget that once they were both black.” She flung them into the fender. “Oh John,” she cried, turning to him and falling again to her knees, “I do so want to forget what I have been. I want to atone. You think you can drive me out of your life. You cannot, darling—since you won’t kill me. Always I shall follow you on my knees, thus.”
He looked down at her over his folded arms,