‘Poet!’ she laughed. ‘Have you forgotten I live at Hampstead?’ She picked up her parasol.
’Put me into a hansom, or my husband will be raving at his lonely dinner-table.’
He was so dazed as to be surprised when the waitress blocked his departure with a bill. When Winifred was spirited away, he remembered she might, without much risk, have given him a lift to Paddington. He hailed another hansom and caught the next train to Oxford. But he was too late for his own dinner in Hall.
He was kept very busy for the next few days, and could only exchange a passionate letter or two with her. For some time the examination fever had been raging, and in every college poor patients sat with wet towels round their heads. Some, who had neglected their tutor all the term, now strove to absorb his omniscience in a sitting.
On the Monday, John Lefolle was good-naturedly giving a special audience to a muscular dunce, trying to explain to him the political effects of the Crusades, when there was a knock at the sitting-room door, and the scout ushered in Mrs. Glamorys. She was bewitchingly dressed in white, and stood in the open doorway, smiling—an embodiment of the summer he was neglecting. He rose, but his tongue was paralysed. The dunce became suddenly important—a symbol of the decorum he had been outraging. His soul, torn so abruptly from history to romance, could not get up the right emotion. Why this imprudence of Winifred’s? She had been so careful heretofore.
‘What a lot of boots there are on your staircase!’ she said gaily.
He laughed. The spell was broken. ’Yes, the heap to be cleaned is rather obtrusive,’ he said, ‘but I suppose it is a sort of tradition.’
‘I think I’ve got hold of the thing pretty well now, sir.’ The dunce rose and smiled, and his tutor realized how little the dunce had to learn in some things. He felt quite grateful to him.
’Oh, well, you’ll come and see me again after lunch, won’t you, if one or two points occur to you for elucidation,’ he said, feeling vaguely a liar, and generally guilty. But when, on the departure of the dunce, Winifred held out her arms, everything fell from him but the sense of the exquisite moment. Their lips met for the first time, but only for an instant. He had scarcely time to realize that this wonderful thing had happened before the mobile creature had darted to his book-shelves and was examining a Thucydides upside down.
‘How clever to know Greek!’ she exclaimed. ’And do you really talk it with the other dons?’
‘No, we never talk shop,’ he laughed. ’But, Winifred, what made you come here?’
‘I had never seen Oxford. Isn’t it beautiful?’
‘There’s nothing beautiful here,’ he said, looking round his sober study.
‘No,’ she admitted; ‘there’s nothing I care for here,’ and had left another celestial kiss on his lips before he knew it. ’And now you must take me to lunch and on the river.’