`I wonder you came to this place!'

`Well, as I say, I thought you were gone to glory, and being in London I saw the situation in an advertisement. Nobody was likely to know me here, even if I had minded, for I was never in Christminster in my growing up.'

`Why did you return from Australia?'

`Oh, I had my reasons.... Then you are not a don yet?'


`Not even a reverend?'


`Nor so much as a rather reverend dissenting gentleman?'

`I am as I was.'

`True - you look so.' She idly allowed her fingers to rest on the pull of the beer-engine as she inspected him critically. He observed that her hands were smaller and whiter than when he had lived with her, and that on the hand which pulled the engine she wore an ornamental ring set with what seemed to be real sapphires - which they were, indeed, and were much admired as such by the young men who frequented the bar.

`So you pass as having a living husband,' he continued.

`Yes. I thought it might be awkward if I called myself a widow, as I should have liked.'

`True. I am known here a little.'

`I didn't mean on that account - for as I said I didn't expect you. It was for other reasons.'

`What were they?'

`I don't care to go into them,' she replied evasively. `I make a very good living, and I don't know that I want your company.'

Here a chappie with no chin, and a moustache like a lady's eyebrow, came and asked for a curiously compounded drink, and Arabella was obliged to go and attend to him. `We can't talk here,' she said, stepping back a moment. `Can't you wait till nine? Say yes, and don't be a fool. I can get off duty two hours sooner than usual, if I ask. I am not living in the house at present.'

He reflected and said gloomily, `I'll come back. I suppose we'd better arrange something.'

`Oh, bother arranging! I'm not going to arrange anything!'

`But I must know a thing or two; and, as you say, we can't talk here. Very well; I'll call for you.'

Depositing his unemptied glass he went out and walked up and down the street. Here was a rude flounce into the pellucid sentimentality of his sad attachment to Sue. Though Arabella's word was absolutely untrustworthy, he thought there might be some truth in her implication that she had not wished to disturb him, and had really supposed him dead. However, there was only one thing now to be done, and that was to play a straightforward part, the law being the law, and the woman between whom and himself there was no more unity than between east and west being in the eye of the Church one person with him.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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