“I haven’t appreciated you sufficiently, Sally,” she said in a toneless voice. “You’re not the sort that gets appreciation. But, my God! I think you’re wonderful. Do I keep saying ‘God’ too much, d’you think?”
That night Sally sat in her old rooms once more and wrote a letter to Traill. The return to them had for one moment surged back in a rushing flood of memories; but it did not overwhelm her. She threw herself into no quagmire of despair. Her eyes were tearless. All her actions were such as those of a person dazed with sleep. One hope she had in her heart which animated her, just as the hope of ultimate rest will give sluggish life to the person whose eyes are heavy with fatigue.
Towards the realization of that hope, she seated herself at her desk and wrote to Traill.
“Will you come and see me to-morrow afternoon at about half-past four? I will give you some tea. I want to speak to you. Please do not think that I am going to begin to pester you with unwelcome attentions. My silence over these two or three months should convince you that I would not worry you like that for anything.
“Hoping that I shall
When she had posted it, she went to bed and slept fitfully till morning. There was no letter waiting her from Traill, but an envelope addressed with a scrawled, uneven writing lay in the box. She tore it eagerly open, her heart beating exultantly.
“DEAR SALLY,” it read,
“Mummy has gone out I am to write to you I am to say good bi proply I am very fond of you but I doant luv you Mummy ses you have been very kind I wode luv you very much if you was my mummy but mummy ses she is she is I am afrade this is not spellt rite but I have got a very bad pen.
If the tears could have come then; but she laid the letter down on the table, and her eyes were aching and dry. The quaintness of the spelling, the almost complete absence of punctuation. That queer little repetition, of words—“she is she is”—none of these things moved her, even to smile. Maurie had said good-bye properly. That, and that he was only just fond of her, was all that reached her understanding. Had the letter been from a lover, dashing all her hopes into fragments, she could not have read it more seriously. But one prospect was left her. She never took her eyes from that. The fact that Traill had not written did not convey to her mind any fear that he would not come. She knew that he would not needlessly lead her to expect him and disappoint her at the last.
At four o’clock she had the table laid for tea. The dainty china that she had bought with him when abroad was brought out. The kettle was beginning to sing on the gas stove in the grate. When everything was ready, she tried to sit quietly in a chair, but her eyes kept wandering to the little Sevres clock. Again and again she rose to her feet, looking out of her window into the street below.