“No,” said the witch. “I am so hungry that my ribs are beginning to bend inwards. I must go and have sausages and mash and two apple dumplings.”
They found themselves presently seated at the marble-topped table of an A.B.C. After an interval that could hardly be accurately described as presently, sausages and mash dawned on the horizon, and the witch waved her fork rudely at it as it approached.
“Mashed is splendid stuff to sculp with,” she said, roughing in a ground plan upon her plate with the sure carelessness of the artist. “This is going to be an ivory castle built upon a rock in a glassy sea. The sausage is the dragon guarding it, and this little crumb of bread is the emprisoned princess, a dull but sterling creature——”
“Look ’ere, Miss Watkins,” interrupted the Mayor. “I’m not as a rule an impulsive man, and I don’t want to startle you——”
“How d’you mean startle me?” asked the witch. “You haven’t startled me at all. But the fact is, I never have been much of a person for getting married, thank you very much. I’m an awful bad house-keeper. And I do so much enjoy having no money.”
“Well, I’m blessed,” exclaimed the Mayor. “You’re a perfect witch, I declare.” He laid a large meat-like hand upon hers. “But you know, you can’t put the lid on me so easy as that. Ever since you came into that old committee room I saw there was something particular about you, something that you an’ me ‘ad in common. I’m not speakin’ so much of us bein’ in the same line of business. Some’ow—oh, ’ang it all, let’s get out of this and take a taxi. I’m not a kissing man, but——”
He seemed very persistent in applying negatived adjectives to himself. It was not his fault if the world failed to grasp exactly what he was, or rather exactly what he was not.
“I have often wondered,” interrupted the witch, “talking of kissing—what would happen if two snipes wanted to kiss each other? It would have to be at such awfully long range, wouldn’t it. Or——”
“Come off it,” ordered the Mayor irritably. “What about gettin’ out of this and——”
“Don’t you think this is becoming rather a tiresome scene?” said the witch. “Somehow over luscious, don’t you think? I wish those apple dumplings would hurry up.”
“’Ere, miss,” said the Mayor ungraciously to a passing whirlwind. “’Urry them dumplings.”
“’Urry them dumplings,” echoed the whirlwind to a little hole in the wall.
The witch had a silly vision of two distressed dumplings, like dilatory chorus girls, mad with the nightmare feeling of not being dressed in time, hearing their cue called in a heartless voice from the inexorable sky, desperately applying the last dab of flour to their imperfect complexions. But the witch found no fault with them when they came. She gave them her whole attention for some minutes.