Maud laughed delightedly. The whole tension of the situation had been eased for her. More and more she found herself liking George. Yet, deep down in her, she realized with a pang that for him there had been no easing of the situation. She was sad for George. The Plummers of this world she had consigned to what they declared would be perpetual sorrow with scarcely a twinge of regret. But George was different.
“Poor Percy!” she said. “I don’t suppose he’ll ever get over it. He will have other hats, but it won’t be the same.” She came back to the subject nearest her heart. “Mr. Bevan, I wonder if you would do just a little more for me?”
“If it isn’t criminal. Or, for that matter, if it is.”
“Could you go to Geoffrey, and see him, and tell him all about me and—and come back and tell me how he looks, and what he said and—and so on?”
“Certainly. What is his name, and where do I find him?”
“I never told you. How stupid of me. His name is Geoffrey Raymond, and he lives with his uncle, Mr. Wilbur Raymond, at 11a, Belgrave Square.”
“I’ll go to him tomorrow.”
“Thank you ever so much.”
George got up. The movement seemed to put him in touch with the outer world. He noticed that the rain had stopped, and that stars had climbed into the oblong of the doorway. He had an impression that he had been in the barn a very long time; and confirmed this with a glance at his watch, though the watch, he felt, understated the facts by the length of several centuries. He was abstaining from too close an examination of his emotions from a prudent feeling that he was going to suffer soon enough without assistance from himself.
“I think you had better be going back,” he said. “It’s rather late. They may be missing you.”
Maud laughed happily.
“I don’t mind now what they do. But I suppose dinners must be dressed for, whatever happens.” They moved together to the door. “What a lovely night after all! I never thought the rain would stop in this world. It’s like when you’re unhappy and think it’s going on for ever.”
“Yes,” said George.
Maud held out her hand.
“Good night, Mr. Bevan.”
He wondered if there would be any allusion to the earlier passages of their interview. There was none. Maud was of the class whose education consists mainly of a training in the delicate ignoring of delicate situations.
“Then you will go and see Geoffrey?”
“Thank you ever so much.”
“Not at all.”
George admired her. The little touch of formality which she had contrived to impart to the conversation struck just the right note, created just the atmosphere which would enable them to part without weighing too heavily on the deeper aspect of that parting.
“You’re a real friend, Mr. Bevan.”