“No.” The word struggled through cold lips.
“P’raps you’d rather not look at this? Don’t you hesitate to say so if you think it’ll be disgusting.”
She caught the note of disappointment. There was no mistaking it. In this moment of excitement, he had become a child—scarce content with seeing the passing show himself, but must drag others with him to share his delight and thereby intensify it.
“I can easily go away if I don’t like it,” she said.
“Yes—of course you can—of course you can. But you ought just to see the beginning, you ought to really. They’ll be as quaint as two waltzing Japanese mice. All these preparations will put them right off at first. They’ll be funked utterly and look as if they were trying to break bubbles, then they’ll warm up a bit. You should see the novices at the National Sporting on Thursday afternoon. They make the whole house roar with laughter. Talk about Don Quixote and the windmills! You must just see the beginning!”
How could she disappoint or refuse him, though the prospect was a moving horror in her mind? She could close her eyes. He had called her. He wanted her to see it with him. How could she refuse, lessen herself perhaps in his opinion? She leant out upon the window-sill and looked bravely below. Their shoulders were touching—she found even consolation and assistance in that.
“Do you think it’ll be long?” she asked in a low voice.
“Don’t know; it all depends. I hope it won’t be too short. Sure you don’t mind?”
She was possessed of that same motive which induces a woman to make light, to make nothing of her pain and her suffering to the man she loves. In such moments—loving deeply—she looks upon it, speaks of it, as a visitation of which she is ashamed. Begs him to forgive her that she suffers. It is an entire abnegation of self. It was so in this matter with Sally.
“I’m quite sure,” she replied, as she held, with tightening hands and knuckles white, upon the window-sill.
The two men emerged from the shed where they had put away their coats. They were stripped to the waist. The couple of lamps that the yard provided, lit up their skin—sickly yellow—and the surrounding houses flung shadows in confusion.
“They’ll have a job to hit straight,” said Traill, tensely. His eyes were riveted before him. He did not look at her, did not see her white, drawn face. She raised her head, gazing at the black, leaden patch of sky that was to be seen through the muddle of roofs and walls. A wondering crossed her mind of all the horrible sights and scenes that were being enacted under that same impenetrable curtain of darkness which hung over everything. She rubbed her hand across her eyes, but could not wipe it out.