Zora, with an immense longing for love, caught her sister in her arms, and the two women wept very happily together. It was thus that Septimus, returning for tea, as he was bidden, found them some while afterwards.
Zora rose, her lashes still wet, and whipped up her furs.
“But you’re not going?”
“Yes. I’ll leave you two together. I’ll do what I can. Septimus—” She caught him by the arm and drew him a step or two towards the door. “Emmy has told me everything. Oh, you needn’t look frightened, dear. I’m not going to thank you—” Her voice broke on the laugh. “I should only make a fool of myself. Some other time. I only want to say, don’t you think you would be more—more cosy and comfortable if you let her take care of you altogether? She’s breaking her heart for love of you, Septimus, and she would make you happy.”
She rushed out of the room, and before the pair could recover from their confusion they heard the flat door slam behind her.
Emmy looked at Septimus with a great scare in her blue eyes. She said something about taking no notice of what Zora said.
“But is it true?” he asked.
She said with her back against the wall:
“Do you think it very amazing that I should care for you?”
Septimus ran his hands vehemently up his hair till it reached the climax of Struwel Peterdom. The most wonderful thing in his life had happened. A woman loved him. It upset all his preconceived notions of his place in the universe.
“Yes, I do,” he answered. “It makes my head spin round.” He found himself close to her. “Do you mean that you love me”—his voice grew tremulous—“as if I were an ordinary man?”
“No,” she cried, with a half laugh. “Of course I don’t. How could I love an ordinary man as I love you?”
Neither could tell afterwards how it happened. Emmy called the walls to witness that she did not throw herself into his arms, and Septimus’s natural timidity precluded the possibility of his having seized her in his; but she stood for a long, throbbing time in his embrace, while he kissed her on the lips and gave all his heart into her keeping.
They sat down together on the fender seat.
“When a man does that,” said Septimus, as if struck by a luminous idea, “I suppose he asks the girl to marry him.”
“But we are married already,” she cried joyously.
“Dear me,” said Septimus, “so we are. I forgot. It’s very puzzling, isn’t it? I think, if you don’t mind, I’ll kiss you again.”
Zora went straight back to her hotel sitting-room. There, without taking off her hat or furs, she wrote a swift, long letter to Clem Sypher, and summoning the waiter, ordered him to post it at once. When he had gone she reflected for a few moments and sent off a telegram. After a further brief period of reflection she went down-stairs and rang up Sypher’s office on the telephone.