`Chiffon and shoulders -- '

`Yes. But he's awfully decent.' There was a pause.

`And what are you going to do about Julius?' he asked.

`Nothing,' she said. `I shall just ignore him.'

`You've done with him altogether?' But she turned aside her face sullenly, and did not answer the question.

Another young man came hurrying up to the table.

`Hallo Birkin! Hallo Pussum, when did you come back?' he said eagerly.


`Does Halliday know?'

`I don't know. I don't care either.'

`Ha-ha! The wind still sits in that quarter, does it? Do you mind if I come over to this table?'

`I'm talking to Wupert, do you mind?' she replied, coolly and yet appealingly, like a child.

`Open confession -- good for the soul, eh?' said the young man. `Well, so long.'

And giving a sharp look at Birkin and at Gerald, the young man moved off, with a swing of his coat skirts.

All this time Gerald had been completely ignored. And yet he felt that the girl was physically aware of his proximity. He waited, listened, and tried to piece together the conversation.

`Are you staying at the flat?' the girl asked, of Birkin.

`For three days,' replied Birkin. `And you?'

`I don't know yet. I can always go to Bertha's.' There was a silence.

Suddenly the girl turned to Gerald, and said, in a rather formal, polite voice, with the distant manner of a woman who accepts her position as a social inferior, yet assumes intimate camaraderie with the male she addresses:

`Do you know London well?'

`I can hardly say,' he laughed. `I've been up a good many times, but I was never in this place before.'

`You're not an artist, then?' she said, in a tone that placed him an outsider.

`No,' he replied.

`He's a soldier, and an explorer, and a Napoleon of industry,' said Birkin, giving Gerald his credentials for Bohemia.

`Are you a soldier?' asked the girl, with a cold yet lively curiosity.

`No, I resigned my commission,' said Gerald, `some years ago.'

`He was in the last war,' said Birkin.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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