Her face had changed; it was no longer amused and negligent, but stamped with an expression of offence. ‘Intolerable,’ it seemed to say, ’to bring a girl like that into a shop like this! I shall never come here again!’ The expression was but the outward sign of that inner physical discomfort Hilary himself had felt when he first saw the little model’s stocking. This naturally did not serve to lessen his anger, especially as he saw her animus mechanically reproduced on the faces of the serving women.
He went back to the little model, and sat down by her side.
“Does it fit? You’d better walk in it and see.”
The little model walked.
“It squeezes me,” she said.
“Try another, then,” said Hilary.
The lady rose, stood for a second with her eyebrows raised and her nostrils slightly distended, then went away, and left a peculiarly pleasant scent of violets behind.
The second pair of boots not “squeezing” her, the little model was soon ready to go down. She had all her trousseau now, except the dress—selected and, indeed, paid for, but which, as she told Hilary, she was coming back to try on tomorrow, when—when—–. She had obviously meant to say when she was all new underneath. She was laden with one large and two small parcels, and in her eyes there was a holy look.
Outside the shop she gazed up in his face.
“Well, you are happy now?” asked Hilary.
Between the short black lashes were seen two very bright, wet shining eyes; her parted lips began to quiver.
“Good-night, then,” he said abruptly, and walked away.
But looking round, he saw her still standing there, half buried in parcels, gazing after him. Raising his hat, he turned into the High Street towards home....
The old man, known to that low class of fellow with whom he was now condemned to associate as “Westminister,” was taking a whiff or two out of his old clay pipe, and trying to forget his feet. He saw Hilary coming, and carefully extended a copy of the last edition.
“Good-evenin’, sir! Quite seasonable to-day for the time of year! Ho, yes! ‘Westminister!’”
His eyes followed Hilary’s retreat. He thought:
“Oh dear! He’s a-given me an ’arf-a-crown. He does look well—I like to see ’im look as well as that—quite young! Oh dear!”
The sun-that smoky, faring ball, which in its time had seen so many last editions of the Westminster Gazette—was dropping down to pass the night in Shepherd’s Bush. It made the old butler’s eyelids blink when he turned to see if the coin really was a half-crown, or too good to be true.
And all the spires and house-roofs, and the spaces up above and underneath them, glittered and swam, and men and horses looked as if they had been powdered with golden dust.