“I have seen him.”
“Well, was his story very terrible?”
“He told me no story.”
“How was that?”
Blanca suddenly sat forward, and threw back the blue scarf, as though she, too, were stifling. In her flushed face her eyes were bright as stars; her lips quivered.
“Is it likely,” she said, “that I should listen? That’s enough, please, of these people.”
Hilary bowed. The cab, bearing them fast home, turned into the last short cut. This narrow street was full of men and women circling round barrows and lighted booths. The sound of coarse talk and laughter floated out into air thick with the reek of paraffin and the scent of frying fish. In every couple of those men and women Hilary seemed to see the Hughs, that other married couple, going home to wedded happiness above the little model’s head. The cab turned out of the gay alley.
“Enough, please, of these people!”
That same night, past one o’clock, he was roused from sleep by hearing bolts drawn back. He got up, hastened to the window, and looked out. At first he could distinguish nothing. The moonless night; like a dark bird, had nested in the garden; the sighing of the lilac bushes was the only sound. Then, dimly, just below him, on the steps of the front door, he saw a figure standing.
“Who is that?” he called.
The figure did not move.
“Who are you?” said Hilary again.
The figure raised its face, and by the gleam of his white beard Hilary knew that it was Mr. Stone.
“What is it, sir?” he said. “Can I do anything?”
“No,” answered Mr. Stone. “I am listening to the wind. It has visited everyone to-night.” And lifting his hand, he pointed out into the darkness.
A DAY OF REST
Cecilia’s house in the Old Square was steeped from roof to basement in the peculiar atmosphere brought by Sunday to houses whose inmates have no need of religion or of rest.
Neither she nor Stephen had been to church since Thyme was christened; they did not expect to go again till she was married, and they felt that even to go on these occasions was against their principles; but for the sake of other people’s feelings they had made the sacrifice, and they meant to make it once more, when the time came. Each Sunday, therefore, everything tried to happen exactly as it happened on every other day, with indifferent success. This was because, for all Cecilia’s resolutions, a joint of beef and Yorkshire pudding would appear on the luncheon-table, notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Stone—who came when he remembered that it was Sunday—did not devour the higher mammals. Every week, when it appeared, Cecilia, who for some reason carved on Sundays, regarded it with a frown. Next week she would really discontinue