“There!” It was as though she had now done something she much wanted to do; as one says “There!” on at last sitting down after much fatigue.
She tossed her gauntlets on to a chair. She walked past him towards the window. “You got my letter?”
Her face was averted. Her voice had not the bantering note with which she had spoken at her entry.
“You never answered it.”
“Well, I’d just seen you—just before I got it.”
She was looking out of the window. “Why haven’t you been up?”
“Oh—I don’t know. I was coming.”
“Well, I had to come,” she said.
He made no reply. He could think of none to make.
She turned sharply away from the window and came towards him, radiant again, as at her entry. And in her first bantering tone, “I know you hate it,” she smiled, resuming her first suggestion, “me coming here, like this. It makes you feel uncomfortable. You always feel uncomfortable when you see me, Marko. I’d like to know what you thought when they told you I was here—”
He started to speak.
She went on, “No, I wouldn’t. I’d like to know just what you were doing before they told you. Tell me that, Marko.”
“I believe I wasn’t doing anything. Just thinking.”
“Well, I like you best when you’re thinking. You puzzle, don’t you, Marko? You’ve got a funny old head. I believe you live in your old head, you know. Puzzling things. Clever beast! I wish I could live in mine.” And she gave a note of laughter.
“Where do you live, Nona?”
“I don’t live. I just go on”—she paused—“flotsam.”
Strange word to use, strangely spoken!
It seemed to Sabre to drop with a strange, detached effect into the conversation between them. His habit of visualising inanimate things caused him to see as it were a pool between them at their feet, and from the word dropped into it ripples that came to his feet upon his margin of the pool and to her feet upon hers.
He took the word away from its personal application. “I believe that’s rather what I was thinking about when you came, Nona. About how we just go on—flotsam. Don’t you know on a river where it’s tidal, or on the seashore at the turn, the mass of stuff you see there, driftwood and spent foam and stuff, just floating there, uneasily, brought in and left there—from somewhere; and then presently the tide begins to take it and it’s drawn off and moves away and goes—somewhere. Arrives and floats and goes. That’s mysterious, Nona?”
She said swiftly, as though she were stirred, “Oh, Marko, yes, that’s mysterious. Do you know sometimes I’ve seen drift like that, and I’ve felt—oh, I don’t know. But I’ve put out a stick and drawn in a piece of wood just as the stuff was moving off, just to save it being carried away into—well, into that, you know.”