“So you’ve learnt at last what I told you?” said Janet. “Did Traill never wish you to have a child?”
“No; I don’t think so. He never said anything about it.”
“No; I don’t think I did. I was too happy.”
Janet bent down over the drawing-board. “You would now?” she said without looking up. In the delicate operation of painting in the petals of a rose, she did not realize that her question had not been answered. A minute slipped by and with breath strained in the holding of it, she repeated her question. “You would now?”
When the rose had bloomed under her brush, still receiving no reply, she sat upright and looked round. Sally’s body was bent forward, her elbows were on her knees, her face in her hands.
Janet clambered down from her stool. “Crying?” she asked.
Sally gazed up at her with tearless eyes. “No; I can’t cry now. I try to. I can’t.”
“God! What a difference it ’ud make to you!” said Janet.
“If you had a kiddy. What was this little Maurie like? He sounded sweet in your letters. Why don’t you see as much of him as you can? I’m sure he’s fond of you. Isn’t he?”
“Yes—in his way—in his dear little way. But you don’t want fondness from children.”
“What do you want, then?”
“Love. If you want anything at all. There were some of the little boys down at Cailsham who were loathsome: horrid little wretches, who’d put out their tongues at you.”
“Sons of gentlemen,” said Janet.
“One of them spat at me once when I was giving him a music lesson. You couldn’t want anything from them. But I could almost have believed that Maurie was mine.”
“Then why don’t you go and see him? Take care of him for Mrs. Priestly till the case is over. He’s bound to be in the way. When will it be over?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is she likely to win?”
“I’m afraid not, and I don’t believe
she minds as long as she’s got
“What counsel has she?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I didn’t read the paper.”
“Well, why don’t you go and take care of him till it’s over?”
“I don’t believe she’d like me to.”
“Why on earth not? Here, let me get at that stove. We’re going to have some tea. But why on earth not?”
“I know she was jealous. Maurie used to write her lots of letters about me. She was afraid he was getting to love me. I could see that this afternoon. I could see it so plainly that I told her. I admitted that I’d tried to get him to love me and failed.”
“You did try?”
“Yes; I suppose it was about the meanest thing I’ve ever done.”
Janet laid down the kettle silently on the stove, then came and sat on the arm of Sally’s chair. One hand she laid on her shoulder, with the other she raised her face.