“Heavens!” she exclaimed. “Why aren’t you at Cailsham?”
“I came up this afternoon.”
Sally entered the room, crossed to the drawing-board, where the design for a figure of lace was slowly materializing in white paint upon brown paper under Janet’s hand. With an apparent concentration of interest she gazed into that. Then Janet closed the door.
“When are you going back?” she asked, climbing slowly to her stool.
“I’m not going back.”
Janet grunted, dipped her brush into the porcelain palette and painted in a line that meant nothing. Then she laid down the brush and looked up.
“I’ve been expecting this.” she said. “Why aren’t you going back?”
“Mother doesn’t want me—I don’t want to go.”
“Does your mother know?”
“She knows nothing.”
Janet stared. “Then what?” she asked abruptly.
Sally dropped into a chair. “Mrs. Priestly—Maurie’s mother—is being divorced. They found it out to-day in the papers. Maurie’s not her husband’s child. They packed him off at once; weren’t even going to send any one with him. I said I’d go. Mother said if I did, she’d never have me in the house again. That didn’t make any difference to me. I was going in any case.”
“A Mr. Grierson down there, asked me to marry him. I couldn’t consent without telling him.”
“You told him?”
“What did he say?”
“Not very much. Just that at first he couldn’t believe it. Then, when he saw I was telling the truth, he said nothing.”
“Why did you tell him?”
“Because—it was only right—it was only fair.”
Janet gazed at her, eyes softened with a gentle admiration.
“Do you remember what you told me about your father?” she said.
“I expect you must he very like him. Only, instead of being a slave to a Church, you’re a slave to your heart. You’re just as much the type of woman whom the world wants and treats damned badly—I don’t care if I do swear—as he was the type of man whom an institution like the Church of England requires—and treats damned badly too. I guess you’re exactly like your father.”
“That’s what mother said; but she didn’t put it in that way. She said I was a fool—like father was.”
“Hum!” said Janet, and picked up her brush again. For a time she worked in silence, eyes strained to the fine lines, breath held in to steady her hand, then liberated with a sudden grunting sound.
“Would you have married the man?” she asked presently.
Janet painted in a few more lines. “Do you mean to say you didn’t realize that he wouldn’t be able to stand what you told him?”
“I expected it.”
“Simply it wasn’t fair. You couldn’t make it fair, however much you tried. You’d have done the same yourself. I think I could have been happy with him if he knew. I’d have worshipped his children. But I should have been miserable if he didn’t know.”