‘You thought I’d done it, didn’t you, old thing?’
’For a bit, I did. For a bit I thought it was Arthur. So did Jukie. You never know. Any one might push any one else. Even Clare may have.’
’You must have thought I was a pretty mean little beast, to let Arthur be suspected without owning up.’
‘I did,’ Katherine admitted. ‘Selfish ...’
She was looking at Jane in her considering way. Her bright blue eyes seemed always to go straight through what she was looking at, like X-rays. When she looked at Jane now, she seemed somehow to be seeing in her not only the present but the past. It was as if she remembered, and was making Jane remember, all kinds of old things Jane had done. Things she had done at Oxford; things she had done since; things Katherine neither blamed nor condemned, but just took into consideration when thinking what sort of a person Jane was. You had the same feeling with Katherine that you had sometimes with Juke, of being analysed and understood all through. You couldn’t diddle either of them into thinking you any nicer than you were. Jane didn’t want to. It was more restful just to be taken for what one was. Oliver had been always idealising her. Gideon didn’t do that; he knew her too well. Only he didn’t bother much about what she was, not being either a priest or a scientific chemist, but a man in love.
‘By the way,’ said Katherine, ‘are you and Arthur going to get married?’
Jane told her in May or June.
Katherine, who was lighting a cigarette, looked at Jane without smiling. The flame of the match shone into her face, and it was white and cold and quiet.
‘She doesn’t think I’m good enough for Arthur,’ Jane thought. And anyhow, K didn’t, Jane knew, think much of marriage at all. Most women, if you said you were going to get married, assumed it was a good thing. They caught hold of you and kissed you. If you were a man, other men slapped you on the back, or shook hands or something. They all thought, or pretended to think, it was a fine thing you were doing. They didn’t really think so always. Behind their eyes you could often see them thinking other things about it—wondering if you would like it, or why you chose that one, and if it was because you preferred him or her to any one else or because you couldn’t get any one else. Or they would be pitying you for stopping being a bachelor or spinster and having to grow up and settle down and support a wife or manage servants and babies. But all that was behind; they didn’t show it; they would say, ’Good for you, old thing,’ and kiss you or shake your hand.
Katherine did neither to Jane. She hadn’t when it was Oliver Hobart, because she hadn’t thought it a suitable marriage. She didn’t, now it was Arthur Gideon, perhaps for the same reason. She didn’t talk about it. She talked about something else.