“So nice to see you! Are you all right?” she said.
“A-one” said Jim, grinning. “Nice of you to have me.”
“Oh, we’re awfully pleased.”
Jim dropped his knapsack on the broad sofa.
“I’ve brought some food,” he said.
“Have you! That’s sensible of you. We can’t get a great deal here, except just at week-ends,” said Tanny.
Jim fished out a pound of sausages and a pot of fish paste.
“How lovely the sausages,” said Tanny. “We’ll have them for dinner tonight—and we’ll have the other for tea now. You’d like a wash?”
But Jim had already opened his bag, taken off his coat, and put on an old one.
“Thanks,” he said.
Lilly made the tea, and at length all sat down.
“Well how unexpected this is—and how nice,” said Tanny.
“Jolly—eh?” said Jim.
He ate rapidly, stuffing his mouth too full.
“How is everybody?” asked Tanny.
“All right. Julia’s gone with Cyril Scott. Can’t stand that fellow, can you? What?”
“Yes, I think he’s rather nice,” said Tanny. “What will Robert do?”
“Have a shot at Josephine, apparently.”
“Really? Is he in love with her? I thought so. And she likes him too, doesn’t she?” said Tanny.
“Very likely,” said Jim.
“I suppose you’re jealous,” laughed Tanny.
“Me!” Jim shook his head. “Not a bit. Like to see the ball kept rolling.”
“What have you been doing lately?”
“Been staying a few days with my wife.”
“No, really! I can’t believe it.”
Jim had a French wife, who had divorced him, and two children. Now he was paying visits to this wife again: purely friendly. Tanny did most of the talking. Jim excited her, with his way of looking in her face and grinning wolfishly, and at the same time asking to be saved.
After tea, he wanted to send telegrams, so Lilly took him round to the village post-office. Telegrams were a necessary part of his life. He had to be suddenly starting off to keep sudden appointments, or he felt he was a void in the atmosphere. He talked to Lilly about social reform, and so on. Jim’s work in town was merely nominal. He spent his time wavering about and going to various meetings, philandering and weeping.
Lilly kept in the back of his mind the Saving which James had come to look for. He intended to do his best. After dinner the three sat cosily round the kitchen fire.
“But what do you really think will happen to the world?” Lilly asked Jim, amid much talk.
“What? There’s something big coming,” said Jim.
“Watch Ireland, and watch Japan—they’re the two poles of the world,” said Jim.
“I thought Russia and America,” said Lilly.
“Eh? What? Russia and America! They’ll depend on Ireland and Japan. I know it. I’ve had a vision of it. Ireland on this side and Japan on the other—they’ll settle it.”