The only other person stood at the round table pouring out red wine. He was a fresh, stoutish young Englishman in khaki, Julia’s husband, Robert Cunningham, a lieutenant about to be demobilised, when he would become a sculptor once more. He drank red wine in large throatfuls, and his eyes grew a little moist. The room was hot and subdued, everyone was silent.
“I say,” said Robert suddenly, from the rear—“anybody have a drink? Don’t you find it rather hot?”
“Is there another bottle of beer there?” said Jim, without moving, too settled even to stir an eye-lid.
“Yes—I think there is,” said Robert.
“Thanks—don’t open it yet,” murmured Jim.
“Have a drink, Josephine?” said Robert.
“No thank you,” said Josephine, bowing slightly.
Finding the drinks did not go, Robert went round with the cigarettes. Josephine Ford looked at the white rolls.
“Thank you,” she said, and taking one, suddenly licked her rather full, dry red lips with the rapid tip of her tongue. It was an odd movement, suggesting a snake’s flicker. She put her cigarette between her lips, and waited. Her movements were very quiet and well bred; but perhaps too quiet, they had the dangerous impassivity of the Bohemian, Parisian or American rather than English.
“Cigarette, Julia?” said Robert to his wife.
She seemed to start or twitch, as if dazed. Then she looked up at her husband with a queer smile, puckering the corners of her eyes. He looked at the cigarettes, not at her. His face had the blunt voluptuous gravity of a young lion, a great cat. She kept him standing for some moments impassively. Then suddenly she hung her long, delicate fingers over the box, in doubt, and spasmodically jabbed at the cigarettes, clumsily raking one out at last.
“Thank you, dear—thank you,” she cried, rather high, looking up and smiling once more. He turned calmly aside, offering the cigarettes to Scott, who refused.
“Oh!” said Julia, sucking the end of her cigarette. “Robert is so happy with all the good things—aren’t you dear?” she sang, breaking into a hurried laugh. “We aren’t used to such luxurious living, we aren’t—are we dear—No, we’re not such swells as this, we’re not. Oh, Robbie, isn’t it all right, isn’t it just all right?” She tailed off into her hurried, wild, repeated laugh. “We’re so happy in a land of plenty, aren’t we dear?”
“Do you mean I’m greedy, Julia?” said Robert.
“Greedy!—Oh, greedy!—he asks if he’s greedy?—no you’re not greedy, Robbie, you’re not greedy. I want you to be happy.”
“I’m quite happy,” he returned.
“Oh, he’s happy!—Really!—he’s happy! Oh, what an accomplishment! Oh, my word!” Julia puckered her eyes and laughed herself into a nervous twitching silence.
Robert went round with the matches. Julia sucked her cigarette.