Beyond the tall shrubs and the high, heavy railings the wet street gleamed silently. The houses of the Square rose like a cliff on this inner dark sea, dimly lighted at occasional windows. Boughs swayed and sang. A taxi-cab swirled round a corner like a cat, and purred to a standstill. There was a light of an open hall door. But all far away, it seemed, unthinkably far away. Aaron sat still and watched. He was frightened, it all seemed so sinister, this dark, bristling heart of London. Wind boomed and tore like waves ripping a shingle beach. The two white lights of the taxi stared round and departed, leaving the coast at the foot of the cliffs deserted, faintly spilled with light from the high lamp. Beyond there, on the outer rim, a policeman passed solidly.
Josephine was weeping steadily all the time, but inaudibly. Occasionally she blew her nose and wiped her face. But he had not realized. She hardly realized herself. She sat near the strange man. He seemed so still and remote—so fascinating.
“Give me your hand,” she said to him, subduedly.
He took her cold hand in his warm, living grasp. She wept more bitterly. He noticed at last.
“Why are you crying?” he said.
“I don’t know,” she replied, rather matter-of-fact, through her tears.
So he let her cry, and said no more, but sat with her cold hand in his warm, easy clasp.
“You’ll think me a fool,” she said. “I don’t know why I cry.”
“You can cry for nothing, can’t you?” he said.
“Why, yes, but it’s not very sensible.”
He laughed shortly.
“Sensible!” he said.
“You are a strange man,” she said.
But he took no notice.
“Did you ever intend to marry Jim Bricknell?” he asked.
“Yes, of course.”
“I can’t imagine it,” he said.
Both were watching blankly the roaring night of mid-London, the phantasmagoric old Bloomsbury Square. They were still hand in hand.
“Such as you shouldn’t marry,” he said.
“But why not? I want to.”
“You think you do.”
“Yes indeed I do.”
He did not say any more.
“Why shouldn’t I?” she persisted. “I don’t know—”
And again he was silent.
“You’ve known some life, haven’t you?” he asked.
“You seem to.”
Do I? I’m sorry. Do I seem vicious?—No, I’m not vicious.—I’ve seen some life, perhaps—in Paris mostly. But not much. Why do you ask?”
“I wasn’t thinking.”
“But what do you mean? What are you thinking?”
“Don’t be so irritating,” said she.
But he did not answer, and she became silent also. They sat hand in hand.
“Won’t you kiss me?” came her voice out of the darkness.