‘I suppose not.’
‘Medea did not weep when she was introduced to Creusa.’
‘Women are not all Medeas,’ he replied.
’There’s a dash of the savage princess about most of them. I am quite ready if you like. I never want to see the curtain fall. And I have had no nosegay brought in a wheelbarrow to throw on to the stage. Are you going to see me home?’
‘You need not. I’m not a bit afraid of a London cab by myself.’ But of course he accompanied her to Islington. He owed her at any rate as much as that. She continued to talk during the whole journey. What a wonderful place London was,—so immense, but so dirty! New York of course was not so big, but was, she thought, pleasanter. But Paris was the gem of gems among towns. She did not like Frenchmen, and she liked Englishmen even better than Americans; but she fancied that she could never like English women. ’I do so hate all kinds of buckram. I like good conduct, and law, and religion too if it be not forced down one’s throat; but I hate what your women call propriety. I suppose what we have been doing to-night is very improper; but I am quite sure that it has not been in the least wicked.’
‘I don’t think it has,’ said Paul Montague very tamely. It is a long way from the Haymarket to Islington, but at last the cab reached the lodging-house door. ‘Yes, this is it,’ she said. ’Even about the houses there is an air of stiff-necked propriety which frightens me.’ She was getting out as she spoke, and he had already knocked at the door. ‘Come in for one moment,’ she said as he paid the cabman. The woman the while was standing with the door in her hand. It was near midnight,—but, when people are engaged, hours do not matter. The woman of the house, who was respectability herself,—a nice kind widow, with five children, named Pipkin,—understood that and smiled again as he followed the lady into the sitting-room. She had already taken off her hat and was flinging it on to the sofa as he entered. ’Shut the door for one moment,’ she said; and he shut it. Then she threw herself into his arms, not kissing him but looking up into his face. ‘Oh Paul,’ she exclaimed, ’my darling! Oh Paul, my love! I will not bear to be separated from you. No, no;—never. I swear it, and you may believe me. There is nothing I cannot do for love of you,—but to lose you.’ Then she pushed him from her and looked away from him, clasping her hands together. ’But Paul, I mean to keep my pledge to you to-night. It was to be an island in our troubles, a little holiday in our hard school-time, and I will not destroy it at its close. You will see me again soon,—will you not?’ He nodded assent, then took her in his arms and kissed her, and left her without a word.