Ohshe murmured again, on a different note, as he stood looking down at her; and without rising she made a place for him on the bench.
Im here on businessjust got here, Archer explained; and, without knowing why, he suddenly began to feign astonishment at seeing her. But what on earth are you doing in this wilderness? He had really no idea what he was saying: he felt as if he were shouting at her across endless distances, and she might vanish again before he could overtake her.
I? Oh, Im here on business too, she answered, turning her head toward him so that they were face to face. The words hardly reached him: he was aware only of her voice, and of the startling fact that not an echo of it had remained in his memory. He had not even remembered that it was low-pitched, with a faint roughness on the consonants.
You do your hair differently, he said, his heart beating as if he had uttered something irrevocable.
Differently? Noits only that I do it as best I can when Im without Nastasia.
Nastasia; but isnt she with you?
No; Im alone. For two days it was not worth while to bring her.
Youre aloneat the Parker House?
She looked at him with a flash of her old malice. Does it strike you as dangerous?
No; not dangerous
But unconventional? I see; I suppose it is. She considered a moment. I hadnt thought of it, because Ive just done something so much more unconventional. The faint tinge of irony lingered in her eyes. Ive just refused to take back a sum of moneythat belonged to me.
Archer sprang up and moved a step or two away. She had furled her parasol and sat absently drawing patterns on the gravel. Presently he came back and stood before her.
Some onehas come here to meet you?
With this offer?
And you refusedbecause of the conditions?
I refused, she said after a moment.
He sat down by her again. What were the conditions?
Oh, they were not onerous: just to sit at the head of his table now and then.
There was another interval of silence. Archers heart had slammed itself shut in the queer way it had, and he sat vainly groping for a word.
He wants you backat any price?
Wella considerable price. At least the sum is considerable for me.
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