Vera stood away from us both. I could see that she was very angry. I had never seen her angry before.
“You know that it’s impossible, Nina,” she said. “You know that Rozanov hates him. And besides—there are other reasons. You know them perfectly well, Nina.”
Nina stood there pouting, tears were in her eyes.
“You’re unfair,” she said. “You don’t let me do anything. You give me no freedom, I don’t care for Boris, but if he wants to go he shall go. I’m grown up now. You have your Lawrence. Let me have my Boris.”
“My Lawrence?” asked Vera.
“Yes. You know that you’re always wanting him to come—always looking for him. I like him, too. I like him very much. But you never let me talk to him. You never—”
“Quiet, Nina.” Vera’s voice was trembling. Her face was sterner than I’d ever seen it. “You’re making me angry.”
“I don’t care how angry I make you. It’s true. You’re impossible now. Why shouldn’t I have my friends? I’ve nobody now. You never let me have anybody. And I like Mr. Lawrence—”
She began to sob, looking the most desolate figure.
“You don’t know what you’ve said, Nina, nor how you’ve hurt.... You can go to your party as you please—”
And before I could stop her she was gone.
Nina turned to me a breathless, tearful face. She waited; we heard the door below closed.
“Oh, Durdles, what have I done?”
“Go after her! Stop her!” I said.
Nina vanished and I was alone. My room was intensely quiet.
They didn’t come to see me again together. Vera came twice, kind and good as always, but with no more confidences; and Nina once with flowers and fruit and a wild chattering tongue about the cinemas and Smyrnov, who was delighting the world at the Narodny Dom, and the wonderful performance of Lermontov’s “Masquerade” that was shortly to take place at the Alexander Theatre.
“Are you and Vera friends again?” I asked her.
“Oh yes! Why not?” And she went on, snapping a chocolate almond between her teeth—“The one at the ‘Piccadilly’ is the best. It’s an Italian one, and there’s a giant in it who throws people all over the place, out of windows and everywhere. Ah! how lovely!... I wish I could go every night.”
“You ought to be helping with the war,” I said severely.
“Oh, I hate the war!” she answered. “We’re all terribly tired of it. Tanya’s given up going to the English hospital now, and is just meaning to be as gay as she can be; and Zinaida Fyodorovna had just come back from her Otriad on the Galician front, and she says it’s shocking there now—no food or dancing or anything. Why doesn’t every one make peace?”
“Do you want the Germans to rule Russia?” I asked.
“Why not?” she said, laughing. “We can’t do it ourselves. We don’t care who does it. The English can do it if they like, only they’re too lazy to bother. The German’s aren’t lazy, and if they were here we’d have lots of theatres and cinematographs.”