Open main menu

Page:Tono-Bungay.djvu/181

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
173
THE DAWN COMES

she wore a brown straw hat that made her, for once, not only beautiful but pretty.

"I like that hat," I said by way of opening; and she smiled her rare delightful smile at me.

"I love you," I said in an undertone, as we jostled closer on the pavement.

She shook her head forbiddingly, but she still smiled. Then—

"Be sensible!"

The High Street pavement is too narrow and crowded for conversation and we were some way westward before we spoke again.

"Look here," I said; "I want you, Marion. Don't you understand? I want you."

"Now!" she cried warningly.

I do not know if the reader will understand how a passionate love, an immense admiration and desire, can be shot with a gleam of positive hatred. Such a gleam there was in me at the serene self-complacency of that "Now!" It vanished almost before I felt it. I found no warning in it of the antagonisms latent between us.

"Marion," I said, "this isn't a trifling matter to me. I love you. I would die to get you. . . . Don't you care?"

"But what is the good?"

"You don't care!" I cried. "You don't care a rap!"

"You know I care," she answered. "If I didn't—— If I didn't like you very much, should I let you come and meet me—go about with you?"

"Well then," I said, "promise to marry me!"

"If I do, what difference will it make?"

We were separated by two men carrying a ladder who drove between us unawares.