A draper occupied the premises opposite Fortune, East and Sabre’s. On the following afternoon, just before five o’clock, Sabre saw Nona alight from her car and go into the draper’s. He put on his hat and coat and descended into the street. As he crossed the road she came out.
“Hullo. Well, there’s evidently one woman in the world who can get out of a draper’s in under an hour. You haven’t been in a minute.”
“Did you see me go in? As a matter of fact I didn’t want anything. As a matter of fact, I was making up my mind—”
“Whether to come in and see me?”
“What about having some tea somewhere?”
“I think that’s a good idea.”
He suggested the Cloister Tea Rooms. She spoke to the chauffeur and accompanied him.
The Cloister Tea Rooms were above a pastry cook’s on the first floor of one of the old houses in The Precincts. The irregularly shaped room provided several secluded: tables, and they took one in a remote corner. But their conversation would have suffered nothing in a more central and neighboured situation. Nona began some account of her summer visitations. Sabre spoke a little of local businesses: had she seen the new railway? Had he been round the Garden Home since her return? But the subjects were but skirmishers thrown out before dense armies of thoughts that massed behind; met, and trifled, and rode away. When pretence of dragging out the meal could no longer be maintained, Nona looked at her watch. “Well, I must be getting back. We haven’t had a particularly enormous tea, but the chauffeur’s had none.”
Sabre said, “Yes, let’s get out of this.” It was as though the thing had been a strain.
He put her into the car. She was so very, very quiet. He said, “I’ve half a mind to drive up with you. I’d like a ride, and a walk back.”
She said the car could run him back, or take him straight over to Penny Green. “Yes, come along up, Marko. They have rather fun in the billiard room after tea.”
He got in and she shared with him the heavy fur rug. “Not that I want fun in the billiard room,” he said.
She asked him lightly, “Pray what can we provide for you, then?”
“I just want to drive up with you.”
It was only three miles to Northrepps. It seemed to Sabre an incredibly short time before a turn in the road fronted them with the park gates. And they had not spoken a word! He said, “By Jove, this car travels! I’ll get down at the gates, Nona. I’m not coming in. I want the walk back.”
She made no attempt to dissuade him. She leaned forward and called to the chauffeur; but as the car began to slow down, she gave a little catch of emotion and said, “Well, we have had a chatty drive. You’d better change your mind and come along up, Marko.”