“Do you think it amusing to speak like that?” she asked.
“What you said—the sentence that you quoted?”
“Of such are the kingdom of heaven?”
“Well—I don’t think it’s the best joke I’ve ever made—but it was meant to be amusing.”
At this, she laughed—laughed in spite of herself. His absolute inconsequence was in itself humorous. She snatched a swift glance at him under cover of a pretence to look behind her. As her eyes returned, she was conscious that she was interested.
He was clean shaven. The lines were hard about his mouth, cutting character—the chin was strong, the jaw well-moulded. It was not a type of face that belonged to the class in which she moved. These men were of the unreliable type—some definite weakness somewhere in every face. So far as she could see in that one sudden glance, this man had none. His face dominated, his voice too. The hardness of his features carried with it a sense of cruelty; but a woman is seldom thwarted by that.
Then returned again the spirit of adventure. By the peculiar inconsequence of his conversation, he had succeeded in driving timidity from her. No man whom she knew would, in the first moments of acquaintance, have spoken as he did. The fact of that alone was an interest in itself. This was an adventure. Again she thrilled to it. The unexpectedness of the whole affair, this riding homewards on the top of a ’bus with a man who had come out of nowhere into her life—even if it were only for a few moments. Would not many another girl in her position be delighted with the experience? That thought warmed her to a greater appreciation of the situation.
But why had he been waiting outside the door of the office? Why had he followed her? How had he known that she was employed in the exacting services of Bonsfield & Co.? All these questions gyrated wildly in her mind, swept about, confused at finding no plausible answers to their importunate demands.
Then, lastly, who was he? There are men who suggest to you that they must be somebody; there is an air of distinction about them that glosses the cheapest coat and creases the poorest pair of trousers. If they are poorly dressed, then it must be that they are masquerading; if their clothes are well-fitting, then it is only what you would have expected. It makes for no definite confirmation of your opinion.
Sally was made conscious of this impression, and, in its way, that thrilled her too. You have little chance with a woman in this world if you are a nonentity. Personality inevitably wins its way, and, in that she was susceptible to the personality of the man beside her, Sally forgot the circumstances of their acquaintance, forgot to review them with that same impartial judgment which she would have exercised had the man conveyed to her mind a more commonplace impression.
Stung then with curiosity to know how he had heard of her, how he had come to be waiting in King Street until she should leave off her work, or whether, as she suspected, it were only that he had been attracted to her as she passed by, she gave herself away with unconscious ingenuousness.