“It doesn’t, Marko. I can see much worse things just on the same principle.”
He said pleasedly, “Of course you can, can’t you? Look at all this stuff there’s been in the papers lately about what they call the problem of the unmarried mother. Now there’s a brute of a case for you: a girl gets into trouble and while she sticks to her baby she’s made an outcast; every door is shut to her; her own people will have nothing to do with her; no one will take her in—so long as she’s got the baby with her. That’s convention and you can imagine cases where it’s cruel beyond words. But it’s no good cursing society about it. You can’t help seeing that the convention is fundamentally right and essential. Where on earth would you be if girls with babies could find homes as easily as girls without babies?” He smiled. “You’d have babies pouring out all over the place. See it?”
She nodded. “I do think that’s interesting, Marko. I think that’s most awfully interesting. Yes, cruel and hateful and preposterous, many of them, but all fundamentally right. I think that’s absorbing. I shall look out for conventions now, and when they annoy me most I’ll think out what they’re based on. I will!”
“Well, it’s not a bad idea,” he said. “It helps in all sorts of ways to think things out as they happen to you. You don’t realise what a mysterious business life is till you begin to do that; and once you begin to feel the mysteriousness of it there’s not much can upset you. You get the feeling that you’re part of an enormous, mysterious game, and you just wonder what the last move means. Eh?”
She did not answer.
Presently she said, “Yes, you do still think things, Marko. You haven’t changed a bit, you know. You’re just the same.”
He smiled. “Oh, well, it’s only two years, you know—less than two years since you went away.”
“I wasn’t thinking of two years.”
“How many years were you thinking of?”
They just sat there.
The insistent shrieking of a motor siren in the street below began to penetrate their silence. When it came to Sabre’s consciousness he had somehow the feeling that it had been going on a very long time. He jumped to his feet. The siren had the obscene and terrific note of a gigantic hen in delirium. “What the devil’s that?”
She received his question with the blank look of one whose mind had no idea of the question’s reason. The strangled gurgle and shriek from without informed her in paroxysms of hideous sound. With a motion of her body, as of one shaking off dreams, she threw away the be-musement in which she had sat. She screwed up her face in torture. “Oh, wow! Isn’t it too awful! That’s Tony. In the car. I told him I’d look in here.” She glanced at the clock. “Marko; it’s one o’clock. I’ve been here two mortal hours!”