“Why were you waiting in King Street?” she asked suddenly.
The words hurried, tumbling in a confusion of self-consciousness from her lips.
“Oh—you saw me there?” said he.
“You saw me when you passed?”
“Did you know I was walking behind you all the
way to Piccadilly
“N—no—how should I?”
“You looked back once or twice.”
“Why do you want to know why I was waiting in King Street?”
“I don’t want to know particularly.”
“Shall I tell you?”
“I had seen you through the window—working at that ghastly typewriter—stood there for more than a quarter of an hour—down the street—waiting till you got sick of it. Then I was going to ask you to come and have tea with me—dinner if you’d liked. I wanted some one to talk to; I was going back to my rooms. When they’re empty, a man’s rooms can be the most godless—”
She stood up abruptly, striking her hat against the roof of the umbrella.
“Will you let me out, please?”
“But you told me you were going to Hammersmith. This is only Knightsbridge.”
“I’m getting down here.”
He stood up. “I’ve offended you,” he said quietly.
“Did you imagine you would not?”
“No—I suppose I didn’t—but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from making your acquaintance. There’s nothing to be sorry about. You were sick of things—I could see that through the window—so was I. Mayn’t two human beings, who are sick of things, find something in common? You’re really going?”
She curled her lip with contempt; but it had a smile behind it which he could not see.
“Shan’t we see each other again?”
She stood at the top of the steps waiting for the ’bus to stop. He looked up into her face and held her eyes.
“Then I apologize,” he said willingly. “And don’t be offended at what I’m going to say now.”
She put her foot down on to the first step. “What is it?”
“I’ll bet you ten pounds we don’t. That is to say you win ten pounds if we do.”
She laughed contemptuously in a breath and hurried down the steps.
It is all very well to say that there have been movements towards the enfranchisement of women since before the Roman era; it is all very well to point out that these movements are periodical, almost as inevitable as the volcanic eruptions that belch out their volumes of running fire and die down again into peaceful submission: but when the whole vital cause is altered, when the intrinsic motive in the entrails of that vast crater is changed, it is no wise policy to say, “It will pass over—another two or three years and women will find, as they have always found before, that it is better to sit still and let others do the work.”