She drew quickly away from him; freed her arm and turned towards the house with lips tight pressed together.
“I’m going in,” she said.
But she had promised to think it over. He kept her to that. Again it was the hunter, the quarry, and the inevitable flight. The thought of her possible escape quickened his pulses. He became infinitely more determined to make her his own. The recollection of her saying that she did not love him was humiliating, but it stirred him to deeper feelings of desire. When he thought of her—as at first—readily accepting him and his prospects, he had not formed so high opinion of her as now, being at her mercy.
She stood before his eyes that night as he lay in bed. One vague dream after another filled his sleep, and Sally took part in them all—kissing him, scorning him. His mental vision was obsessed with the sight of her.
With Sally herself, sleep came late—reluctantly—like a tired man, dragging himself to his journey’s end.
Janet was seated up in bed, reading and smoking, when she returned. While she was taking off her clothes, Sally told her all about it—word for word—everything that had passed between them. This is a way of women. They have a marvellous memory for the recounting in detail of such incidents as these.
“Thinking it over means nothing,” she said when Sally had finished—“thinking it over’ll only fix your mind on refusing him all the more. His one chance was this evening. You know that yourself—don’t you? You’ll never accept him now.”
Sally crept wearily into the bed and pulled the clothes about her.
“Will you?” Janet repeated.
Sally muttered a smothered negative into the pillow, and stared out before her at the discoloured wall-paper.
“Sally”—Janet shut up her book, and threw the end of her cigarette with accurate precision into the tiny fireplace—“Sally—”
“Is there anybody else? Some man up in Town—some man who comes into the office—some man in the office—is there?”
Sally turned her pillow over. “No,” she replied. She kept her eyes away from Janet’s, but her answer was firm and decided.
For a few moments, Miss Hallard sat upright in the bed and watched her. Her mind was keyed with intuition. She was conscious of the presence of some influence in Sally’s mind—probably more conscious of it than Sally was herself. You could not have shaken her in that belief. Even a woman cannot act to a woman, and that decided “No” from Sally had only served the more to convince her. When one woman deals in subtleties with another, fine hairs and the splitting of them are merely clumsy operations to perform.
“Are you tired?” asked Janet presently—“or only pretending to be?”
“Why should I pretend? I am tired—frightfully tired.”