“Ah, you shrink back!” he said in tones of bitter pleasure. “I told you I lived in isolation.”
Eileen’s humour shot forth candidly. “You’ll not be isolated when you die.”
His bitterness passed into genial superiority. “You mean I’ll go to hell. How can you believe anything so horrible?”
“Why is that horrible for me to believe? For you—” And she filled up the sentence with a smile.
“I don’t believe you do believe it.”
“There’s nothing you seem to believe. I do honestly think that you can’t be saved if you don’t believe.”
“I accept that. The question, however, is what kind of belief and what kind of saving. Do you suppose Plato is in hell?”
“I don’t know. He invented Platonic love, didn’t he? So that might save him.” She looked at him with her great grey eyes—he couldn’t tell whether she was quizzing him or not.
“Is that all you know of Plato?”
“I know he was a Greek philosopher. But I only learned Greek roots at the Convent. So Plato is Greek to me.”
“He has been beautifully Englished by the Master of my College. I wish you’d read him.”
“Is the translation in the library?”
“Of course—with lots of other interesting books, and such queer folios and quartos and first editions. The collector was a man of taste. Why do you never come and let me show them you?”
“You’d run away.”
“No, I wouldn’t,” he smiled encouragingly.
“Yes, you would. And leave your pipe on Plato!”
He laughed. “Was I rude? But I didn’t know you then. Come to-morrow afternoon and show you’ve forgiven me.”
The new interest was sufficiently tempting. But her maidenliness held back. “I’ll come with your mother.”
Disgust lent him wit. “You’re her companion—not she yours.”
“True. Nor I yours.”
“Then I’ll come here.”
“Bringing the Plato and the folios—?”
“Why not? You can’t forbid me my own drawing-room.”
“I can run away and leave my crochet-hook behind.”
“You’ll find me hooked on whenever you return.”
“Well, if you’re determined—by hook or by crook! But you’re not going to convert me to Socialism?”
“I won’t promise.”
“You must. I don’t mind reading Plato.”
“He’s worse. He isn’t a Christian at all.”
“I don’t mind that. He’s B.C. He couldn’t help it. But you Socialists came after Christ.”
“How do you know Socialism isn’t a return to Him?”
“Aha! You are getting interested.... But I hear my mother coming down to dinner. To be continued in our next. A demain, is it not?”
He held out his shapely white hand, and hastened through the conservatory into the garden.
“Going to dig?” Eileen called after him maliciously.