And watching her unconscious eyes following the movements of the waiters, never staring, but taking in all that was going on, he thought: ‘Prettiest creature in the world!’
“Well,” he said: “What would you like to do now—drop into a theatre or music-hall, or what?”
Gyp shook her head. It was so hot. Could they just drive, and then perhaps sit in the park? That would be lovely. It had gone dark, and the air was not quite so exhausted—a little freshness of scent from the trees in the squares and parks mingled with the fumes of dung and petrol. Winton gave the same order he had given that long past evening: “Knightsbridge Gate.” It had been a hansom then, and the night air had blown in their faces, instead of as now in these infernal taxis, down the back of one’s neck. They left the cab and crossed the Row; passed the end of the Long Water, up among the trees. There, on two chairs covered by Winton’s coat, they sat side by side. No dew was falling yet; the heavy leaves hung unstirring; the air was warm, sweet-smelling. Blotted against trees or on the grass were other couples darker than the darkness, very silent. All was quiet save for the never-ceasing hum of traffic. From Winton’s lips, the cigar smoke wreathed and curled. He was dreaming. The cigar between his teeth trembled; a long ash fell. Mechanically he raised his hand to brush it off—his right hand! A voice said softly in his ear:
“Isn’t it delicious, and warm, and gloomy black?”
Winton shivered, as one shivers recalled from dreams; and, carefully brushing off the ash with his left hand, he answered:
“Yes; very jolly. My cigar’s out, though, and I haven’t a match.”
Gyp’s hand slipped through his arm.
“All these people in love, and so dark and whispery—it makes a sort of strangeness in the air. Don’t you feel it?”
“No moon to-night!”
Again they were silent. A puff of wind ruffled the leaves; the night, for a moment, seemed full of whispering; then the sound of a giggle jarred out and a girl’s voice:
“Oh! Chuck it, ’Arry.”
“I feel the dew now, Dad. Can we walk on?”
They went along paths, so as not to wet her feet in her thin shoes. And they talked. The spell was over; the night again but a common London night; the park a space of parching grass and gravel; the people just clerks and shop-girls walking out.
Fiorsen’s letters were the source of one long smile to Gyp. He missed her horribly; if only she were there!—and so forth—blended in the queerest way with the impression that he was enjoying himself uncommonly. There were requests for money, and careful omission of any real account of what he was doing. Out of a balance running rather low, she sent him remittances; this was her holiday, too, and she could afford to pay for it. She even sought out a shop where she could sell jewelry, and, with a certain malicious joy, forwarded him the proceeds. It would give him and herself another week.