“But statistics,” began Louis.
“The worst of statistics is that people only quote the statistics that will prove their argument. They don’t quote those for the other side. If drunkards’ children become drunkards it’s probably because their lives are so desperately miserable that they take the most obvious way of drowning the misery. Anyway, Louis—”
“Lord, you are getting dictatorial, Marcella,” he said.
“Yes. I know. I mean to be, on this subject. I’ll tell you this much, my dear. If you tell this child of ours that you’re a drunkard, I’ll shake the life out of you and then run away with him where he’ll never see you again. And if he sees you drunk—! But he won’t. Anyway, you won’t be any more. And now, seriously, after all that speech, let’s go to sleep.”
It was his turn to lie awake for hours this time, thinking and listening to her quiet breathing.
They started awake at dawn to the discordant laughter of a jackass in the gum tree above their heads. After a moment’s struggle to locate herself Marcella sprang up and, running over the little plot of grass that fringed the creek, had another joyous swim. The morning was very still—uncannily still, and already hot. When they started out along the bank of the creek about six o’clock they felt the oppression almost unendurable, but in the motionless air the five trees that marked Loose End were very distinct, though rather like toy trees in a child’s model garden.
The depression of the night had gone; neither of them mentioned it; they talked of trivialities until they halted for lunch and drank a billy full of lukewarm tea.
Louis had built a tent by spreading two of the blankets over bushes to keep off the sun-glare. But there was not much rest in the gasping heat and at last Marcella stood up, stretching her arms which the pack on her back was making stiff.
“I wonder if it would matter if I took all my things off?” she began reflectively. Then she gasped out: “Why Louis, where are the five trees?”