Berthe and Marie stood at the bottom of the stairs as they ascended.
“Au’voir, Monsieur—merci—au’voir, Madame.”
Now it was like a duet of little cuckoo clocks, both in unison, both in time, both with that fascinating touch of the nasal Parisienne voice. Sally was enchanted with it all.
Last of all there was Madame—Madame smiling—Madame rubbing her fat, homely hands together—Madame’s twinkling brown eyes dancing upon the two of them.
“You had a good dinner, Monsieur?”
“Excellent, thank you, Madame.”
“Oh, Monsieur;” she caught Traill’s arm and detained him as Sally went out in front. “Oh—monsieur—elle est charmante!” Her eyes lifted and her hands carried the words upwards—to heaven, if need be.
Traill threw back his head and laughed. “Madame—vous etes trop romanesque pour ce monde.”
“Ah, non, Monsieur—je suis ce que je suis. Je suis trop grosse peut-etre, mais pas trop romanesque. Au’voir, Monsieur—merci—prenez garde d’elle, Monsieur.” She held up a fat warning finger. “Au’voir, Madame. A bientot.”
They left her bowing there against the background of the old bottle glass, lit yellow by the light within, her smiles following them down the street.
“Well—there you are,” said Traill, as they walked away. “That’s the terrible, shameless Bohemian life in anarchist quarters. What a thing it is to be thankful for, that only the English manners are manners, and couldn’t afford to show their face in Soho.”
They walked in silence through the little bye-streets of Soho, and followed their way down Shaftesbury Avenue. At the crossings, he lightly took her arm, protecting her from the traffic, freeing it directly they reached the pavement. Inwardly she thrilled, even at the slight touch of his hand on her elbow. She had never been quite so happy before. Nothing needed explanation. She defined no sensation to herself. When the sun first bursts in April after the leaden winter skies, you bask in it, drench yourself in the fluid of its light, and ask no questions. It is only the smallest natures that are not content with the moment that is absolute.
But in the mind of Traill, there swung a ponderous balance that could not find its equilibrium. She had called him a gentleman; was he going to act as one? Into her side of the scale, with both her little hands, she had thrown in her implicit confidence. Was there any weight on his side which he could put in to equalize? He hunted through his intentions as the goldsmith hunts amongst his drachms and his counterpoises; but he found nothing that could balance the massive quality of her faith—nothing!