‘I’ll write to you, no fear,’ said Gideon. ’And I’ll be in time for the wedding.... Jane, we’ll have a great time, you and I, learning things together. We’ll have adventures. We’ll go exploring, shall we?’
’Rather. We’ll lend Charles to mother and dad often, and go off.... I’d come with you now for two pins. Only I can’t.’
‘No. Charles needs you at present.’ ’There’s my book, too. And all sorts of things.’ ’Oh, your book—that’s nothing. Books aren’t worth losing anything for. Don’t you ever get tied up with books and work, Jane. It’s not worth it. One’s got to sit loose. Only one can’t, to kids; they’re too important. We’ll have our good times before we get our kids—and after they’ve grown old enough to be left to themselves a bit.’
Jane smiled enigmatically, only obscurely realising that she meant, ’Our ideas of a good time aren’t the same, and never will be.’
Gideon too only obscurely knew it. Anyhow, for both, the contemplation of that difference could be deferred. Each could hope to break the other in when the time came. Gideon, as befitted his sex, realised the eternity of the difference less sharply than Jane did. It was just, he thought, a question of showing Jane, making her understand.... Jane did not think that it was just a question of making Gideon understand. But he loved her, and she was persuaded that he would yield to her in the end, and not spoil her jolly, delightful life, which was to advance, hand in hand with his, to notoriety or glory or both.
For a moment both heard, remotely, the faint clash of swords. Then they shut a door upon the sound, and the man, shaken with sudden passion, drew the woman into his arms.
‘I’ve been talking, talking all the evening,’ said Gideon presently. ’I can’t get away from it, can I. Preaching, theorising, holding forth. It’s more than time I went away somewhere where no one will listen to me.’
’There’s plenty of talking in Russia. You’ll come back worse than ever, my dear.... I don’t care. As long as you do come back. You must come back to me, Arthur.’
She clung to him, in one of her rare moments of demonstrated passion. She was usually cool, and left demonstration to him.
‘I shall come back all right,’ he told her. ’No fear. I want to get married, you see. I want it, really, much more than I want to get information or anything else. Wanting a person—that’s what we all want most, when we want it at all. Queer, isn’t it? And hopelessly personal and selfish. But there it is. Ideals simply don’t count in comparison. They’d go under every time, if there was a choice.’
Jane, with his arms round her and his face bent down to hers, knew it. She was not afraid, either for his career or her own. They would have their good time all right.
A PLACARD FOR THE PRESS