“But you’ll get over that,” he said. “You’ll get over that.”
“I don’t think so.”
“But why not? Perhaps you give way to it. Find yourself plenty to do. Keep yourself moving. You won’t be lonely then.”
“I know. But do what?”
“Well,” the question faced him. He had to answer it. “Well, you’re fond of reading, aren’t you?”
“And you’ve got these rooms to keep straight. A good many women if they thought they’d got to tidy up two rooms every day would grumble at the amount of labour, because it took up so much of their time.”
“Yes; but they’d do it.”
“Probably they’d have to.”
“And then they wouldn’t be lonely.”
“Quite so. Isn’t that what I say?”
“Yes; but don’t you forget one thing?”
“They’d be doing it for some one else. They wouldn’t be doing it for themselves. And don’t you think they get the impetus to do it from that?”
She leant forward—no sign of triumph in her face—and watched his eyes. She knew he could not reply to that. He knew it too. He pulled strenuously at his cigarette, then flung it into the empty fireplace.
“Then what is your point?” he asked firmly. He beat around no bushes. That was not the nature of him. This was a difficulty. He faced it. This was the scene she had deftly been leading up to. Let her have it out and he would tell her straight, once and for all. “What is your point?” he repeated. “You want me to come back—go through the same business all over again?”
Now he was puzzled. His eyes frowned straight into hers.
“Then what? Come along, Sally, out with it.”
She turned her head away. He heard the sound in her throat as she began to form the words. But she could not say it. Then her hands covered her face, for a moment stayed there; at last she took them away and met the beating gaze of his eyes.
“If I had a child,” she said quickly.
His forehead creased, line upon line. He took a deep breath and leant back in his chair.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“If I had a child,” she repeated, “I shouldn’t be lonely then. I should have some one to do all these things for then. I should have something to live for.”
Traill stood abruptly to his feet. “You’re—you’re crazy!” he exclaimed.
She stood beside him. Her hand stretched out nervously, touching his coat.
“No, no, I’m not. I mean it. Can’t you see what it would mean to me, here alone, night after night, night after night, no one, absolutely no one but myself.”
He studied her in amazement. “If it were any other woman than you,” he said suddenly, “I should think this was a put-up job to compromise me—a cunning, put-up job. But you! It’s amazing! I don’t understand it. Why, you’d brand yourself to the whole world. It’d be a mill stone round your neck, not a child.”