A tall figure turned down past the church, coming towards her. It was he! And suddenly she bethought herself. She went to the little black piano, sat down, and began to sing the song she had sung to him ten years ago: “If I could be the falling dew and fall on thee all day!” She did not even look round when he came in, but continued to croon out the words, conscious of him just behind her shoulder in the dark. But when she had finished, she got up and threw her arms round him, strained him to her, and burst into tears on his shoulder; thinking of Noel and that dead boy, thinking of the millions of other boys, thinking of her own happiness, thinking of those ten years wasted, of how short was life, and love; thinking—hardly knowing what she thought! And Jimmy Fort, very moved by this emotion which he only half understood, pressed her tightly in his arms, and kissed her wet cheeks and her neck, pale and warm in the darkness.
Noel went on with her work for a month, and then, one morning, fainted over a pile of dishes. The noise attracted attention, and Mrs. Lynch was summoned.
The sight of her lying there so deadly white taxed Leila’s nerves severely. But the girl revived quickly, and a cab was sent for. Leila went with her, and told the driver to stop at Camelot Mansions. Why take her home in this state, why not save the jolting, and let her recover properly? They went upstairs arm in arm. Leila made her lie down on the divan, and put a hot-water bottle to her feet. Noel was still so passive and pale that even to speak to her seemed a cruelty. And, going to her little sideboard, Leila stealthily extracted a pint bottle of some champagne which Jimmy Fort had sent in, and took it with two glasses and a corkscrew into her bedroom. She drank a little herself, and came out bearing a glass to the girl. Noel shook her head, and her eyes seemed to say: “Do you really think I’m so easily mended?” But Leila had been through too much in her time to despise earthly remedies, and she held it to the girl’s lips until she drank. It was excellent champagne, and, since Noel had never yet touched alcohol, had an instantaneous effect. Her eyes brightened; little red spots came up in her cheeks. And suddenly she rolled over and buried her face deep in a cushion. With her short hair, she looked so like a child lying there, that Leila knelt down, stroking her head, and saying: “There, there; my love! There, there!”
At last the girl raised herself; now that the pallid, masklike despair of the last month was broken, she seemed on fire, and her face had a wild look. She withdrew herself from Leila’s touch, and, crossing her arms tightly across her chest, said:
“I can’t bear it; I can’t sleep. I want him back; I hate life—I hate the world. We hadn’t done anything—only just loved each other. God likes punishing; just because we loved each other; we had only one day to love each other—only one day—only one!”