“When do you go back to London?” she asked.
She sighed deeply, leaning against him on the sofa.
“Is this all the holiday you’ll get this year?”
“No—I’ve Whitsun coming—Friday
to Tuesday. I might run down to
He watched her carefully.
“Oh, that ’ud be fine. You’d come and see me here?”
“Of course—if you asked me?”
“If I asked you,” she repeated in a sudden, trembling scorn.
Her head drooped to his breast, and he took her in his arms, holding her across him—all her magnificent weight upon his knees. Oh, she was a lovely creature ... as he kissed her firm, shy mouth it seemed to him as if her whole body was a challenge. A queer kind of antagonism seized him—prude or rake, she should get her lesson from him all right.
When he had gone Joanna said to Ellen—
“D’you think it would be seemly if I asked Mr. Hill here to stay?”
“Of course it would be ‘seemly,’ Jo. I’m a married woman. But would he be able to come? He’s in business somewhere, isn’t he?”
“Yes, but he could get away for Whitsun.”
“Then ask him by all means. But ...”
She looked at her quickly and teasingly.
“Jo, do you care about this man?”
“What d’you mean? Why should I care? Or, leastways, why shouldn’t I?”
“No reason at all. He’s a good bit younger than you are, but then I always fancied that if you married it ud be a man younger than yourself.”
“Who said I was going to marry him?”
“No one. But if you care ...”
“I never said I did.”
“Oh, you’re impossible,” said Ellen with a little shrug. She picked up a book from the table, but Joanna could not let the conversation drop.
“What d’you think of Mr. Hill, Ellen? Does he remind you of anyone particular?”
“No, not at the moment.”
“Hasn’t it ever struck you he’s a bit like my Martin Trevor?”
Her tongue no longer stammered at the name.