“Oh, it’s not the bother, of course. But ... but I really don’t see anything to be gained by it, that’s the fact.... Our meetings, on the last few occasions when we have met, haven’t been particularly comfortable. I don’t think Peter likes them any better than I do.... One can’t force intercourse, Lucy; if it doesn’t run easily and smoothly, it had better be left alone. There have been things between us, between Peter’s family and my family, that can’t be forgotten or put aside by either of us, I suppose; and I don’t think Peter wants to be reminded of them by seeing me any more than I do by seeing him. It’s—it’s so beastly uncomfortable, you know,” he added boyishly, ruffling up his hair with his hand; and concluded didactically, “People must drift apart if their ways lie in quite different spheres; it’s inevitable.”
Denis, who had a boyish reticence, had expanded and explained himself more than usual.
Lucy’s hand dropped from his knee on to her own.
“I suppose it is inevitable,” she said, beneath her breath. “I suppose the distance is too great. ’Tis such a long, long way from here to there ... such a long, long way.... Good-night, Denis; I’m going to bed.”
She got up slowly, cramped and tired and pale. It was not till she was on her feet that she saw Lord Evelyn sitting in the background, and remembered his presence. She had forgotten him; she had been thinking only of Denis and Peter and herself. She didn’t know if he had been listening much; he sat quietly, nursing his knee, saying nothing.
But when Lucy had gone he said to Denis, “You’re right, Denis; you’re utterly right, not to have anything to do with those swindlers,” and, as if in a sudden fresh anger against them, he began again his quick, uneven pacing down the room.
“False through and through,” he muttered. “False through and through.”
Lucy’s face, as she had risen to her feet and said “Good night, Uncle Evelyn,” had been so like Peter’s as he had last seen it, when Peter had passed him in the doorway at Astleys, that it had taken his breath away.
QUARRELS IN THE RAIN
In Brook Street the rain fell. It fell straight and disconsolate, unutterably wet, splashing drearily on the paved street between the rows of wet houses. It fell all day, from the dim dawn, through the murky noon, to the dark evening, desolately weeping over a tired city.
Inside number fifty-one, Peggy mended clothes and sang a little song, with Thomas in her lap, and Peter, sitting in the window-seat, knitted Thomas a sweater of Cambridge blue. Peter was getting rather good at knitting. Hilary was there too, but not mending, or knitting, or singing; he was coughing, and complaining of the climate.