His eyes were dark, very deep, and very quiet. It was as if her beauty and his taking it hurt him, made him sorrowful. He looked at her with a little pain, and was afraid. He was so humble before her. She kissed him fervently on the eyes, first one, then the other, and she folded herself to him. She gave herself. He held her fast. It was a moment intense almost to agony.
She stood letting him adore her and tremble with joy of her. It healed her hurt pride. It healed her; it made her glad. It made her feel erect and proud again. Her pride had been wounded inside her. She had been cheapened. Now she radiated with joy and pride again. It was her restoration and her recognition.
Then he looked at her, his face radiant. They laughed to each other, and he strained her to his chest. The seconds ticked off, the minutes passed, and still the two stood clasped rigid together, mouth to mouth, like a statue in one block.
But again his fingers went seeking over her, restless, wandering, dissatisfied. The hot blood came up wave upon wave. She laid her head on his shoulder.
“Come you to my room,” he murmured.
She looked at him and shook her head, her mouth pouting disconsolately, her eyes heavy with passion. He watched her fixedly.
“Yes!” he said.
Again she shook her head.
“Why not?” he asked.
She looked at him still heavily, sorrowfully, and again she shook her head. His eyes hardened, and he gave way.
When, later on, he was back in bed, he wondered why she had refused to come to him openly, so that her mother would know. At any rate, then things would have been definite. And she could have stayed with him the night, without having to go, as she was, to her mother’s bed. It was strange, and he could not understand it. And then almost immediately he fell asleep.
He awoke in the morning with someone speaking to him. Opening his eyes, he saw Mrs. Radford, big and stately, looking down on him. She held a cup of tea in her hand.
“Do you think you’re going to sleep till Doomsday?” she said.
He laughed at once.
“It ought only to be about five o’clock,” he said.
“Well,” she answered, “it’s half-past seven, whether or not. Here, I’ve brought you a cup of tea.”
He rubbed his face, pushed the tumbled hair off his forehead, and roused himself.
“What’s it so late for!” he grumbled.
He resented being wakened. It amused her. She saw his neck in the flannel sleeping-jacket, as white and round as a girl’s. He rubbed his hair crossly.
“It’s no good your scratching your head,” she said. “It won’t make it no earlier. Here, an’ how long d’you think I’m going to stand waiting wi’ this here cup?”
“Oh, dash the cup!” he said.
“You should go to bed earlier,” said the woman.
He looked up at her, laughing with impudence.