Marthe was discussing her vendeuse’s child....
And then suddenly Maurice saw Madame Marly. She was without a hat and scattering her terrified staff with her eye.
She came straight to him, her voice was mocking.
“Maintenant, je peux donner des renseignements a Monsieur.”
“I did not know,” he blurted, “I had no idea,” and then as the ultimate significance of their meeting disentangled itself from the immediate embarrassment,
“Thank God, I have found you.”
* * * * *
Mlle. de Marveau married the Comte de Cely.
The Comtesse de Cely wanted an escape and became Madame Lalli.
Madame Lalli wanted an escape and became Madame Marly—for Paula was always Paula.
And then she met Maurice and her youth. Twenty-five years of age and experience and disappointment fell from her. But to keep her great illusion she offered her big resistance....
And then the tiny knife turned in the tiny wound. The unconscious buzzing machine touched the exposed nerve—the silly, absurd, irrelevant name.
The lover in pursuit of the beloved became the novelist examining the dressmaker, seeking for information. When professional meets professional.
This time she capitulated for she ran away.
* * * * *
That night Maurice wrote to her.
“Paula, I love you. I loved you always. I loved you invulnerable, wise, fortified beyond the wiles of men. How much more do I love you now with your one weak spot—so weak, so absurd that it can only be kissed, and laughed at and adored.
“Paula, my own, the twenty-five years have never existed. There is only one immortal moment—and that is to come.
“Beloved, best beloved, only beloved, I want you so badly.
“Besides, you have got to describe me several dresses for my new book.”
AULD LANG SYNE
[To HAROLD NICOLSON]
It was delightful to be back in England after two and a half years. Two and a half years of India, of pomp and circumstance and being envied, of heat and homesickness and loneliness. How starved she had felt—starved of little intellectual coteries with their huge intellectual sensations—starved of new books and old pictures and music, of moss roses and primroses and bluebell woods, starved even into the selfishness of coming home, urged away by Robert, who did not know how to be selfish. Thinking of him made her feel very tender and very small. His iron public spirit, his inevitable devotion to duty, unconscious and instinctive and uncensorious, combined with a guilty sense that her youth and beauty had been uprooted by him, and put into a dusty distant soil. He was more convinced than any one of the importance of books and music and intellectual interests