“Of course you couldn’t.”
“But why not? I wouldn’t be afraid to, but simply I shouldn’t think of things; and why shouldn’t I?”
“Because you’re not meant to fight, you have to be fought for, like Mr. Arthur fought for you in his own particular way, like this man you’re going to meet to-night is fighting for you too.”
Sally’s eyes looked wonderingly before her. “Do you think things are really like that?” she asked.
“I’m sure of it.”
“But why?—why, for instance, are you meant to fight?”
“Do you want me to answer the riddle of the Universe?”
“I don’t see why it should be such a riddle.”
“Well, it is. I don’t know who arranged these things, no more than any one else, though a good many make a comfortable income by telling you that they do. But it’s pretty obvious that it is so; that’s enough for me.”
“I don’t see why it’s obvious,” Sally persisted.
Janet stood away from the table and held out her arms—the thin, fleshless arms—straight, no deviation to the ungainly shoulders. There was unconscious drama in it. Yet she was the last person in the world to act.
“Well, look at me,” she said.
Sally only looked at her eyes, and her lips twitched compassionately.
“You may be all wrong,” she said. “I may have to fight as well—you don’t know—and somebody, you can never tell, may fight for you.”
Janet took the round, warm cheeks in her hands and caressed them with the long, sensitive fingers.
“That’ll never be,” she said quietly—“never—never. I know it right away in here.” She laid her hand upon her chest.
“But why?” Sally repeated petulantly, as though wishing it could alter the truth.
“Because I suppose I really want to do the fighting, however much I may think differently, when I see you and hear you talk, when your heart’s going and there’s all the meaning of it in your eyes. I’ve got to fight, and away inside me I want to. I suppose that’s the compensation.”
Then Mrs. Hewson brought the key, saying words over it—an incantation of half-hearted rebuke—and following Sally with her eyes as she walked out of the kitchen.
There is Bohemianism still—there will always be Bohemianism. But the present will never wear the same air of fantasy as the past. It is the same with all things. Every circumstance take its colour from the immediate surroundings, and you cannot expect to get the same light-hearted Bohemianism in the midst of an orderly, church-going, police-conducted district. What hope is there for a troubadour nowadays with the latest regulations upon street noises? We must dispense with troubadours and get our Romance elsewhere. So everything has to suit itself to its own time—Bohemianism with the rest.