A heavy sigh forced its way through her lips. She had to swallow hastily in her throat to check the sudden rising of the tears. At last, with impulsive decision, she went back to her room, took a silk dressing-gown from the wardrobe, fitted her feet into little silk slippers and, without hesitation, without pausing to formulate her definite plan of action, she crept down the stairs again, opened the door of his sitting-room and stole in.
“Jack,” she whispered. “Jack!”
Her throat was dry and the low voice found no resonance from the roof of her mouth. There was no answer. He had not heard her.
“Jack!” She said it again and tapped faintly on his door.
“That you, Sally?”
“What is it? Come in. I’m in bed. Believe I was asleep. What is it? Come in.”
She opened the door gently. He sat up in bed, found matches, struck one and lit a candle.
“Lord!” he exclaimed, “you’ll catch your death of cold. What do you want, child?”
“I can’t get to sleep,” she murmured, blinking her eyes at the sudden glare of the candle.
He sat there, looking at her, his eyes dazed, half awake.
“I don’t know.”
“Thinking too much?”
“Yes, I suppose so.”
“Well, count sheep going through a gate. A hundred’s the prescribed amount.”
She tried to smile because she knew that if she did not, he would think she was unhappy or depressed.
“No, I want you to let me have a book,” she said; “I think perhaps if I read—”
“Of course, take anything you like, and try smoking a cigarette. That may make you drowsy.”
He lay back on the pillows. For a moment, she stood, undecided as to what to do; then she went into the other room, taking up the first book that her hands touched in the darkness. There, again, she waited in silence. At last she undid the fastenings that held her dressing-gown tight about her and came back again into the room.
“What did you get?” he asked.
She looked for the first time at the cover.
“Macaulay’s ‘History of England.’”
The springs of the bed creaked to his chuckle of laughter.
“You’ll go to sleep all right now,” he said.
“But I think I’d like a cigarette, if I might.”
“Yes, why not?”
“Where shall I find them?”
“In the case, in my waistcoat pocket. It’s hanging over the back of the chair. What a ridiculous child you are to let that dressing-gown flap open like that. You’ll catch your death of cold. Fasten it up—go on!”
She reluctantly did as she was bid; then searched for the case. When she had found it, she came down to the side of his bed and stood there, picking nervously at the cigarette in her fingers.
“Would you like me to blow out the candle?” she asked.
“Oh no, that’s all right. I can blow it out from here. You get to the door and see your way out first.”