(She might get the better of Seven Sachs, but not of him, Edward Henry Machin from the Five Towns!)
“Marrier!” said he, suddenly, with a bluff, humorous downrightness, “you know you’re in a very awkward position here, and you know you’ve got to see Alloyd for me before six o’clock. Be off with you. I will be responsible for Miss April.”
("I’ll show these Londoners!” he said to himself. “It’s simple enough when you once get into it.”)
And he did in fact succeed in dismissing Mr. Marrier, after the latter had talked Azure business with Miss April for a couple of minutes.
“I must go too,” said Elsie, imperturbable, impenetrable.
“One moment,” he entreated, and masterfully signalled Marrier to depart. After all he was paying the fellow three pounds a week.
She watched Marrier thread his way out. Already she had put on her gloves.
“I must go,” she repeated; her rich red lips then closed definitely.
“Have you a motor here?” Edward Henry asked.
“Then if I may I’ll see you home.”
“You may,” she said, gazing full at him. Whereby he was somewhat startled and put out of countenance.
“Are we friends?” he asked roguishly.
“I hope so,” she said, with no diminution of her inscrutability.
They were in a taxi-cab, rolling along the Embankment towards the Buckingham Palace Hotel, where she said she lived. He was happy. “Why am I happy?” he thought. “What is there in her that makes me happy?” He did not know. But he knew that he had never been in a taxi-cab, or anywhere else, with any woman half so elegant. Her elegance flattered him enormously. Here he was, a provincial man of business, ruffling it with the best of them!... And she was young in her worldly maturity. Was she twenty-seven? She could not be more. She looked straight in front of her, faintly smiling.... Yes, he was fully aware that he was a married man. He had a distinct vision of the angelic Nellie, of the three children, and of his mother. But it seemed to him that his own case differed in some very subtle and yet effective manner from the similar case of any other married man. And he lived, unharassed by apprehensions, in the lively joy of the moment.
“But,” she said, “I hope you won’t come to see me act.”
“Because I should prefer you not to. You would not be sympathetic to me.”
“Oh, yes, I should.”
“I shouldn’t feel it so.” And then, with a swift disarrangement of all the folds of her skirt, she turned and faced him. “Mr. Machin, do you know why I’ve let you come with me?”
“Because you’re a good-natured woman,” he said.
She grew even graver, shaking her head.
“No! I simply wanted to tell you that you’ve ruined Rose—my cousin.”