She looked pitiably about her. Now it seemed that the little Dutch clock, which had been ticking so merrily, so much in unison with life, all went out of time. It seemed a farce then, that little Dutch clock. All the romance went out of it—it was only a trade—a trade machine for the making of money, no longer the counting of happy hours. Everything seemed a trade then—everything seemed a trade.
That evening the settlement was drawn up. When he had finished it, Traill held it out to her.
“You’d better just read it through,” he said; “the substance of it is there. To legalize, merely means to write the same thing at greater length and in less comprehensive English.”
“I don’t want to read it,” she replied.
“It doesn’t interest me. You’ve written it to please yourself, not to please me. Please don’t ask me to read it!”
He was unable to follow the reasoning of this, and he shrugged his shoulders with a sense of irritation. “As you wish,” he said quietly and put the paper away in a drawer of his bureau. “I’ll give you a copy of this, at any rate.”
Before they had gone abroad, Traill had taken a lease of the floor above his chambers, which contained rooms similar in shape and size to those in which he lived. These, he had decorated and furnished according to the slightest wish that he could induce Sally to express. In the room which she used as a sitting-room, he had given her a piano with permission to play on it whenever he was not in the rooms below. Most of the daytime, then, she was at liberty to make what noise she liked and, at all times, free to have any friends she wished to see, on the strict understanding that he was not to be bothered by them.
There was only one friend. Janet came to see her on every occasion when Traill had to be out for the evening—at a Law Courts dinner or some such public function, but she never met him.
“Why doesn’t he want to meet your friends?” Janet once asked her.
“I have only one,” Sally had replied, laughing.
“Well—why won’t he meet me? I suppose you’ve shown him that photograph you’ve got of me? It’s enough to put any man off.”
“I shall never take any notice when you talk like that,” said Sally.
“Very well—don’t! But why is it?”
“I think I know—but I’m afraid you’ll be angry.”
“No, I shan’t. Come along—out with it!”
“Well—I told him once—that first day I dined with him—that I should love you two to meet. I said I’d love to hear you argue—”
“Oh, God!” exclaimed Janet. She cast her eyes up to the ceiling. “That did it! What did he say?”
“He said he could love a woman, but he couldn’t argue with her.”
“Yes—of course he did. A woman has to be confoundedly pretty before a man’s going to let her have a point of view. Even then, if she isn’t fairly cute, it’s his own he gives her. Then I suppose when you came to live here, he saw my photograph?”