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Marcelle Lesarge and Miss Kezia Faunce quarrelled violently in the private sitting-room of an expensive Parisian hotel.
The interview had begun with embarrassment, but decorously, and had proceeded through stages of mutual exasperation to final outbursts of recrimination that were without restraint.
Miss Faunce wore an ugly brown travelling dress frogged with black braid. Miss Faunce had sent quite a friendly little note stating casually that she was in Paris for a few days, naming her hotel and adding how pleased she would be to see Martha again after so many years. Lesarge replied in a letter written on an impulse of kindness and had accepted, quite warmly, the invitation to renew the relationship broken off so early and for such a great while, as it seemed, completely forgotten.
But, when they met, the first friendly conventionalities had soon changed into this bitter quarrelling.
There was a pause in their fierce speech and they sat slack, exhausted by passion, staring at each other and each thought: 'It must never be known by any of my friends that that dreadful woman is my sister.' 'I should be ruined,' the actress said to herself. That hideous, middle-aged, dowdy bourgeoisemy sister! So, pulling at the large pearls that fastened her pale grey gloves she said, with some art: 'It is very stupid of us to quarrel.
You should not have come and I should not have seen you.
So, when she had a little reassured herself by that nervous, anxious contemplation of her reflection in the mirror (her figure at least was very good, and her taste in clothes excellent), she turned and said, with an attempt at conciliation: 'Let us part with some civility at least, Kezia. But there is no other person beside yourself nearly connected with me. I don't suppose if we were stripped side by side we should look in the least alike.' 'Don't you? I'd give you what would have been your share now, if you'd like to change your way of living.' 'Repent—I suppose, is what you wanted to say, Kezia. Though you must admit,' she added, a little grimly, 'that it has been fortunate for you, from a practical point of view, that I did take—the primrose path, I suppose you'd call it, eh? 'Every penny of that money will be left to do good to someone. The words did take her back to certain broken dreams and odd moments of nostalgia.
Lesarge knew that she would feel deeply uneasy until she was assured that Kezia had left Paris and was not likely to return. I live alone, as you know, and of course, there is plenty to do, I am never idle. 'Did you really come to Paris to say these silly things to me? 'You have wasted your time and your money.' 'I have plenty of both,' replied Kezia, 'you know Grandmother Tallis died last year. Half of it would have been yours if you had been—a different sort of woman. I don't want Grandmother Tallis's money nor any of yours.Her lips were dry and trembling, and her flaccid cheeks quite pale. I ran away from home when I was sixteen, and I have had all manner of adventures since.' 'Pray don't relate any of them to me,' flung in Kezia. ' The actress smiled with a maddening self-complacency. They are quite out of the range of your experience. 'Don't you realise how really shocking that sounds to me? You never had the strength to break away.' Miss Faunce rose and walked to the window and peered down through the stiff, white, starched lace curtains into the narrow noisy street below and watched a baker's boy putting the very long powdered loaves into a handcart.But, as I said, I left home when I was sixteen and I think it would be quite reasonable for me to feel that it was rather dreadful to think of you at Stibbards all that time—going on just the same, day in, day out. And grandmother before that, I suppose.' 'In other words,' interrupted Kezia, 'leading the life of a decent gentlewoman with a sense of honour and of duty.' 'How can you talk like that? She wanted to say what she had to say with the deadly effect of perfect calm.Neither woman could forgive the appearance of the other.Miss Kezia Faunce saw in the actress the woman who had attained everything which she, in the name of Virtue, had denied herself.
But now I suppose we have said all the unpleasant things we can think of.