But Robert looked at Francey. He had sat all the time with his arms crossed on the oil-clothed table and looked at her, frankly and unconsciously as a savage or a street boy might have done. He was too tired to care. He had come straight from giving the limousine underneath an extra washing down for the Whitsun holidays and oil still lingered in his nails, and there was a faint forgotten smear of it on his cheek, and another near the thick upstanding hair where he had rubbed his hand across. They came as almost humorous relief in a face in which there were things ten years too old—the harsh and bony structure showing where there should have been a round boyishness, and the full mouth set in a fierce, relentless negation of itself. But the oil smears and the eyes that shone out from under the fair overhanging brows were again almost too young. They made the strength pathetic.
He, too, sat in the sunlight, which was not kind to his green, threadbare clothes. But the sun only came into the stable yard for an hour or two, and as it withdrew itself slowly along the length of the table he shifted his position to move with it, unconsciously, like a tired animal. Francey, cross-legged and smoking, on the couch which at night unfolded itself into a bed, saw the movement and smiled at him. Her eyes were as steady in their serenity as his were steady with hunger. She did not change colour, so that whatever she understood from that long scrutiny did not trouble her. He leant forward, as though he were afraid of missing some subtle half-tone in her voice.
“Mr. Ricardo thinks I’m unprejudiced. He’s forgotten the times when he pulled my ears and smacked my head. But you are different, Francey. You can say what you think.”
“But it wouldn’t be at all helpful,” she answered very solemnly. “To begin with, I have the scientific mind, and I cannot accept as a basis of argument an entirely untested hypothesis.”
Connie Edwards thereupon gave vent to an artificial groan of anguish, followed by an explosive giggle which would have lost her her half of Rufus Cosgrave’s chair had he not put his arm round her. There were only three chairs in the room, and as two of them had been already occupied when she and her companion had, as she expressed it, “blown in” half an hour previously, they had perched together, listening with clasped hands and an air of insincere solemnity. For Mr. Ricardo had not stopped reading. He had gone on as though he had not heard their boisterous entry, and even now would have seemed unaware of their existence but for something bitter and antagonistic in the hunch of his thin shoulders. His dark, biting eyes avoided them like those of a sullen child who does not want to see. But Miss Edwards appeared to be not easily depressed. She waved her hand in friendly thanks for the cigarette case which Francey tossed across to her, and, having selected her cigarette with blunt, viciously manicured fingers, poked Cosgrave for a match.