“Naturally I can’t answer,” she said; “not now—later. You understand why.—Of course you can come. Hurry! I’m dying to see you. By-by.”A frown crept into her eyes. “That was because I was going to see you.”She clapped her hands. “For you. I’ll tell you later.”He helped her into the seat which, up to now, had reproached him with its emptiness. He didn’t have to imagine any longer.
“I like it. But why don’t you call me by my own name? You speak of Horace and Tom.”Again she twisted round, watching him curiously. “Why d’you ask?”Her frown did not lighten.“Don’t say I didn’t warn you. There was a garden enclosed—the gates all locked, and Love gazed in at it! But there came a time when Love grew tired. While he had waited, the garden had taken no notice. But when he had gone, all the lilies, and sunflowers, and roses rushed to the gates and clamored to follow him. But the locks had grown rusty. The garden which had enclosed itself against Love, found itself shut out from Love. Tra-la-la! Yea, verily.”The fat man started laughing—laughing uproariously. His body shook like a jelly and fell into dimples. He tried to speak, but couldn’t. At last he shouted: “Mr. Ooze, come ’ere. This little boy—”“Remember your promise.” She held up a warning finger.As soon as Paris was left behind, he was consumed with impotent impatience. It seemed to him that the engine pulled up at every poky little town in Normandy. He got it on his mind that every railroad official was conspiring to make him late. He had one moment of exquisite torture. They had been at a standstill in a station for an interminable time. He got out and, in his scarcely intelligible French, asked the meaning of the delay. The man whom he had questioned pointed; at that moment the non-stop boat-express from Paris overtook them and thundered by. At it passed, he glanced anxiously at the carriage-windows, hoping against hope that he might catch sight of her.She smiled. “The old New York question. Anywhere—— I don’t care.” She slipped her arm into his and then withdrew it. “It is fun to be alone with you.”Slowly, like pirouetting faeries, snowflakes drifted gleaming down the dusk. It was the first snow since that memorable flight to the country. canada goose winnipeg canada goose winnipeg canada goose winnipeg “Some driving, wasn’t it? You oughtn’t to complain. You liked it.”“Teddy.”He was certain of himself now. He was shaking like a leaf. If her voice could thrill and unnerve him when her body was absent, this must be more than passion.He touched her. She frowned. “Not here. It’s too full of Americans. We might be recognized.” Huddling herself into her corner, she tried to look as if he were not there.No answer. He tiptoed up the steps and out into the passage. It was long and gloomy; at the end of it a strip of light escaped from a door which had been left ajar. It was from there that the voice was calling. Steadying himself with his hand against the wall, he stole noiselessly towards it Just as he reached the strip of light the singing abruptly ended.In the weeks that followed a dangerous comradeship sprang up between them; dangerous because of its quiet confidence, which seemed to deny the existence of passion. Her total ignoring of the fact of sex made any reference to it seem vulgar; yet everything that she did, from the itinerant beauty-patch to the graceful frailty of her dress, was a silent and provocative acknowledgment that sex was omnipresent.“Just this once.”The room in which the visitor was waiting was at the back of the house. It had folding windows, which were open, and steps leading down into the garden. Evening fragrances drifted in from flowers. In the waning sunlight the garden became twice peopled—by its old inhabitants and by their shadows. On the lawn a sprinkler was revolving, throwing up a mist which sank upon the turf with the rustle of falling rain.“Girls look forward to—what kind of things?” she echoed. “I can’t tell. The same kind of things that men look forward to, I expect. The surprise things, and—yes, the excitements, most of all.”He looked up from inspecting his lamps. She had come down the steps to the pavement. The porter had entered the hotel; inside he was shooting the last bolt into its socket.He let her go. Again the flame of anger swept through him. “Will you ever feel like it?” canada goose winnipeg “Want to ask you something. You think I’m in love with that kid, Desire, don’t you? Well, I’m not.”“Don’t you think that’s a bit cowardly?” Teddy objected.“Fluffy.” She glanced across at him, appealing for his patience.“I’m going away,” she whispered. “Whatever you hear, even when you’ve become a man, believe always that I wanted to be good. Believe that, whatever happens. Promise me, Teddy. It—it’ll help.”For a long while Mrs. Sheerug had been a staple topic of conversation between Dearie and Jimmie Boy. They had wondered who she was. They had made up the most preposterous tales about her and had told them to Teddy. They would watch for her to come out of her house six doors away, so that as she passed their window in Eden Row Jimmie Boy might make rapid sketches of her trotting balloon-like figure. He had used her more than once already in books which he had been commissioned to illustrate. She was the faery-godmother in his Cinderella and Other Ancient Tales: With!6 Plates in color by James Gurney. She was Mother Santa Claus in his Christmas Up to Date. They had rather wanted to get to know her, this child-man and woman who seemed no older than their little son and at times, even to their little son, not half as sensible. They had wanted to get to know her because she was always smiling, and because she was always upholstered in such hideously clashing colors, and because she was always setting out burdened on errands from which she returned empty-handed. The attraction of Mrs. Sheerug was heightened by Jane’s, the maid-of-all-work’s, discoveries: Orchid Lodge was heavily in debt to the local tradesmen and yet (it was Dearie who said “And yet.” with a sigh of envy), and yet its mistress was always smiling.“I don’t want any breakfast,” Fluffy pouted ungraciously; “all I want is a place to lie down.” canada goose winnipeg The immediate outcome of this was money—more money than Eden Row had ever imagined. Mrs. Sheerug refused to leave Orchid Lodge.“You are good to me,” she murmured; “you save me so much trouble.”She laughed secretly, and pressed her face against his shoulder. “Oh, you! You were, just the same as you were jealous of Bones.”If they went on living as they were living now, his career would be torn to shreds by her unsatisfied energy. They would have to settle down. In putting up with any irritations that might result, he’d be helping her to pay the penalty—the penalty which Vashti had imposed on so many lives—on her own most of all—by her early selfishness. Towering above his passion and mingling with it oddly, was the great determination to save her from the ruinous lightness to which her mother’s undefined social position had committed her.