Outside the inn door, exhaling the last puffs of his good-night cigarette, he thought: ’What wouldn’t I give for the old days, and a chance to wing some of these moral upstarts!’
The last train was not due till eleven-thirty, and having seen that the evening tray had sandwiches, Gyp went to Summerhay’s study, the room at right angles to the body of the house, over which was their bedroom. Here, if she had nothing to do, she always came when he was away, feeling nearer to him. She would have been horrified if she had known of her father’s sentiments on her behalf. Her instant denial of the wish to see more people had been quite genuine. The conditions of her life, in that respect, often seemed to her ideal. It was such a joy to be free of people one did not care two straws about, and of all empty social functions. Everything she had now was real—love, and nature, riding, music, animals, and poor people. What else was worth having? She would not have changed for anything. It often seemed to her that books and plays about the unhappiness of women in her position were all false. If one loved, what could one want better? Such women, if unhappy, could have no pride; or else could not really love! She had recently been reading “Anna Karenina,” and had often said to herself: “There’s something not true about it—as if Tolstoy wanted to make us believe that Anna was secretly feeling remorse. If one loves, one doesn’t feel remorse. Even if my baby had been taken away, I shouldn’t have felt remorse. One gives oneself to love—or one does not.”
She even derived a positive joy from the feeling that her love imposed a sort of isolation; she liked to be apart—for him. Besides, by her very birth she was outside the fold of society, her love beyond the love of those within it—just as her father’s love had been. And her pride was greater than theirs, too. How could women mope and moan because they were cast out, and try to scratch their way back where they were not welcome? How could any woman do that? Sometimes, she wondered whether, if Fiorsen died, she would marry her lover. What difference would it make? She could not love him more. It would only make him feel, perhaps, too sure of her, make it all a matter of course. For herself, she would rather go on as she was. But for him, she was not certain, of late had been less and less certain. He was not bound now, could leave her when he tired! And yet—did he perhaps feel himself more bound than if they were married—unfairly bound? It was this thought—barely more than the shadow of a thought—which had given her, of late, the extra gravity noticed by her father.
In that unlighted room with the moonbeams drifting in, she sat down at Summerhay’s bureau, where he often worked too late at his cases, depriving her of himself. She sat there resting her elbows on the bare wood, crossing her finger-tips, gazing out into the moonlight, her mind drifting on a stream of memories that seemed to have beginning only from the year when he came into her life. A smile crept out on her face, and now and then she uttered a little sigh of contentment.