The Malefactor HTML version
II.9. The Indiscretion Of The Marchioness
"I am perfectly certain," Juliet declared, "that we ought not to be here."
"That," Aynesworth remarked, fanning himself lightly with his pocket handkerchief,
"may account for the extraordinary sense of pleasure which I am now experiencing. At
the same time, I can't see why not."
"I only met you this afternoon--a few hours ago. And here we are, absolutely wedged
together on these seats--and my chaperon is dozing half the time."
"Pardon me," Aynesworth objected, "I knew you when you were a child."
"For one day!"
"Nevertheless," Aynesworth persisted, "the fact remains. If you date our acquaintance
from this afternoon, I do not. I have never forgotten the little girl in short frocks and long
black hair, who showed me where the seagulls built, and told me Cornish fairy stories."
"It was a very long time ago," she remarked.
"Four years," he answered; "for you, perhaps, a long time, because you have changed
from a child--into a woman. But for a man approaching middle age--as I am--nothing!"
"That is all very well, " she answered, "but I am not sure that we ought to be in the
gallery at Covent Garden together, with a chaperon who will sleep!"
"She will wake up," he declared, "with the music."
"And I," she murmured, "will dream. Isn't it lovely?"
"I wonder how it really seems to you," he remarked. "We are breathing an atmosphere
hot with gas, and fragrant with orange peel. We are squashed in amongst a crowd of
people of a class whom I fancy that neither you nor I know much about. And I saw you
last in a wilderness! We saw only the yellow sands, and the rocks, and the Atlantic. We
heard only the thunder of the sea and the screaming of seagulls. This is very different."
"Wonderfully, wonderfully different," she answered. "I miss it all! Of course I do, and yet
one is so much nearer to life here, the real life of men and women. Oh, one cannot
compare it. Why should one try? Ah, listen!"