“I came here,” she said, “meaning to chuck this money in your face. I thought you were one of these canting hypocrites who salve their consciences by giving away what they don’t want. My baby died this morning in the hospital, and they turned me out. If I keep your money, do you know what I shall do with it? Get drunk.”
She looked at him stolidly.
“When I’ve spent it, I shall go into the river. I’m not fit for anything else. I’m too weak to work, and for the rest, look at me. I’m as ugly as sin itself—just a few bones held together.”
“Take the money and get drunk,” Maraton advised. “You’re quite right. There’s no help for you. You’ve no spirit to help yourself. If you hang on to the crust of the world through charity, you only do the world harm. You’re better out of it.”
She gathered up the money and shivered a little.
“I’ll drink yer health,” she muttered, as she turned away.
Julia half started to follow her, but Maraton held her arm.
“Useless,” he whispered. “She’s one of the broken creatures of the world. Whilst you keep her alive, you spread corruption. She’ll probably hang on to life until it gives her up.”
He called a taxi.
“Now I am going to have my own way,” he announced. “Aaron is going to take you home. I came here because you wished it, but it’s very amateurish, you know, this sort of thing. It’s on a par with district visiting and slumming, and all the rest of it. A disease in the body sometimes brings out scars. A doctor doesn’t stare at the scars. He treats the body for the disease. Get these places out of your mind, Julia. They are only useful inasmuch as they remind us of the black truth.”
He took her hands.
“Remember,” he added, “that you’ve finished with the tailoring for a time. Aaron will want you to-morrow, or as soon as you can come. We’ve piles of work to do.”
Her eyes shone at him.
“Work,” she murmured, “but think of the difference! If it wasn’t for what you’ve just said about individualism, I think that I should be feeling cruelly selfish.”
“Rubbish!” he exclaimed. “You’re secretary of the Women’s Guild, aren’t you? You can keep that up. I’ll come and talk to your girls some day. Your work has been too narrow down there. There are some other women’s industries I want you to enquire into. Till to-morrow!”
He strode vigorously away. The taxicab turned eastward over Blackfriars Bridge.