“Dear God,” exclaimed Herr von Kwarl, “as you say, they have made sacrifices on that altar!”
Cicely had successfully insisted on having her own way concerning the projected supper-party; Yeovil had said nothing further in opposition to it, whatever his feelings on the subject might be. Having gained her point, however, she was anxious to give her husband the impression of having been consulted, and to put her victory as far as possible on the footing of a compromise. It was also rather a relief to be able to discuss the matter out of range of Joan’s disconcerting tongue and observant eyes.
“I hope you are not really annoyed about this silly supper-party,” she said on the morning before the much-talked-of first night. “I had pledged myself to give it, so I couldn’t back out without seeming mean to Gorla, and in any case it would have been impolitic to cry off.”
“Why impolitic?” asked Yeovil coldly.
“It would give offence in quarters where I don’t want to give offence,” said Cicely.
“In quarters where the fait accompli is an object of solicitude,” said Yeovil.
“Look here,” said Cicely in her most disarming manner, “it’s just as well to be perfectly frank about the whole matter. If one wants to live in the London of the present day one must make up one’s mind to accept the fait accompli with as good a grace as possible. I do want to live in London, and I don’t want to change my way of living and start under different conditions in some other place. I can’t face the prospect of tearing up my life by the roots; I feel certain that I shouldn’t bear transplanting. I can’t imagine myself recreating my circle of interests in some foreign town or colonial centre or even in a country town in England. India I couldn’t stand. London is not merely a home to me, it is a world, and it happens to be just the world that suits me and that I am suited to. The German occupation, or whatever one likes to call it, is a calamity, but it’s not like a molten deluge from Vesuvius that need send us all scuttling away from another Pompeii. Of course,” she added, “there are things that jar horribly on one, even when one has got more or less accustomed to them, but one must just learn to be philosophical and bear them.”
“Supposing they are not bearable?” said Yeovil; “during the few days that I’ve been in the land I’ve seen things that I cannot imagine will ever be bearable.”
“That is because they’re new to you,” said Cicely.
“I don’t wish that they should ever come to seem bearable,” retorted Yeovil. “I’ve been bred and reared as a unit of a ruling race; I don’t want to find myself settling down resignedly as a member of an enslaved one.”
“There’s no need to make things out worse than they are,” protested Cicely. “We’ve had a military disaster on a big scale, and there’s been a great political dislocation in consequence. But there’s no reason why everything shouldn’t right itself in time, as it has done after other similar disasters in the history of nations. We are not scattered to the winds or wiped off the face of the earth, we are still an important racial unit.”