Mildred smiled a little and faintly flushed. She was not then suffering from the dyspepsia which generally attacked her immediately after a meal. She felt more kindly disposed to Philip than ever before, and the unaccustomed tenderness in her eyes filled him with joy. He knew instinctively that it was madness to give himself into her hands; his only chance was to treat her casually and never allow her to see the untamed passions that seethed in his breast; she would only take advantage of his weakness; but he could not be prudent now: he told her all the agony he had endured during the separation from her; he told her of his struggles with himself, how he had tried to get over his passion, thought he had succeeded, and how he found out that it was as strong as ever. He knew that he had never really wanted to get over it. He loved her so much that he did not mind suffering. He bared his heart to her. He showed her proudly all his weakness.
Nothing would have pleased him more than to sit on in the cosy, shabby restaurant, but he knew that Mildred wanted entertainment. She was restless and, wherever she was, wanted after a while to go somewhere else. He dared not bore her.
"I say, how about going to a music-hall?" he said.
He thought rapidly that if she cared for him at all she would say she preferred to stay there.
"I was just thinking we ought to be going if we are going," she answered.
"Come on then."
Philip waited impatiently for the end of the performance. He had made up his mind exactly what to do, and when they got into the cab he passed his arm, as though almost by accident, round her waist. But he drew it back quickly with a little cry. He had pricked himself. She laughed.
"There, that comes of putting your arm where it's got no business to be," she said. "I always know when men try and put their arm round my waist. That pin always catches them."
"I'll be more careful."
He put his arm round again. She made no objection.
"I'm so comfortable," he sighed blissfully.
"So long as you're happy," she retorted.
They drove down St. James' Street into the Park, and Philip quickly kissed her. He was strangely afraid of her, and it required all his courage. She turned her lips to him without speaking. She neither seemed to mind nor to like it.
"If you only knew how long I've wanted to do that," he murmured.
He tried to kiss her again, but she turned her head away.
"Once is enough," she said.
On the chance of kissing her a second time he travelled down to Herne Hill with her, and at the end of the road in which she lived he asked her:
"Won't you give me another kiss?"
She looked at him indifferently and then glanced up the road to see that no one was in sight.
"I don't mind."
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