“Miss Standish-Roe and myself. We shall be all alone if you don’t.”
Sally’s face rose in Traill’s mind. If he went, this would be the first evening, except for those engagements which his profession demanded, on which he would have left her to dine at a restaurant by herself. But was he bound? Not in the least! The consideration that it might even seem to an outsider, decided him.
“Yes, I’ll come,” he said. “What time dinner?”
Again there was exultation in the heart of Mrs. Durlacher.
“Better be seven-thirty,” she said.
He agreed. It never suggested itself to him that he wanted to go. He hated to seem bound. That was his reason. So he took it with an open mind, questioning nothing.
When he had gone, Mrs. Durlacher turned to her friend.
“You can come—can’t you?” she asked.
Miss Standish-Roe nodded her head.
That evening, Traill removed the first pillar in the structure which Sally had built—the Temple of her security. Notwithstanding all Janet’s advice, heedless, utterly, of Janet’s point of view which had been held before her eyes on almost every occasion on which they had met during the last three years, she persisted in believing more surely in the mooring of her life to Traill’s, so long as no mention of settlement was ever suggested.
There was full reason on her side for this. Unable to accept conditions as Janet would have had her take them—the abandoning of one master for the service of another—she knew that so long as Traill kept her by his side without a word of agreement, his honour as the gentleman she always knew him to be would remain as binding as any sanction of the Church.
On this evening, then, when he returned from his visit in Sloane Street, they went together to the little restaurant in Soho where they had taken their first dinner together.
There was Berthe and Marie—there was Madame—there was Alexandre—all still working together with the precious regularity of the Dutch clock.
“Bon soir, monsieur—bon soir, madame.” Not an inflection was changed, not a note was altered. The firm hand of necessity had wound them up day after day, all those three years, and they had ticked together and tocked together to the swing of the pendulum of fortune ever since.
“I shall always love this place,” said Sally cheerfully, as they sat down at the same table—sous l’escalier.
“Because you first brought me here.” She stretched her hand across the table and lovingly touched his fingers. She was happy, then.
“You’re not sorry that I did?” he asked seriously.
“Sorry—no! How could I be?” Trouble came too quickly into her eyes. It left them slower than it came.
“Do you remember what you said to me”—he reminded her—“just before we went on to my rooms?”