Open main menu

Page:Tono-Bungay.djvu/480

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
472
TONO-BUNGAY

out of that pine-shaded Woking canal, how she fell talking of the things that happened to her before she met me again. . . .

She told me things, and they so joined and welded together other things that lay disconnected in my memory, that it seemed to me I had always known what she told me. And yet indeed I had not known nor suspected it, save perhaps for a luminous, transitory suspicion ever and again.

She made me see how life had shaped her. She told me of her girlhood after I had known her. "We were poor and pretending and managing. We hacked about on visits and things. I ought to have married. The chances I had weren't particularly good chances. I didn't like 'em."

She paused. "Then Carnaby came along."

I remained quite still. She spoke now with downcast eyes, and one finger just touching the water.

"One gets bored, bored beyond redemption. One goes about to these huge expensive houses. I suppose—the scale's immense. One makes one's self useful to the other women, and agreeable to the men. One has to dress. . . . One has food and exercise and leisure. It's the leisure, and the space, and the blank opportunity it seems a sin not to fill. Carnaby isn't like the other men. He's bigger. . . . They go about making love. Everybody's making love. I did. . . . And I don't do things by halves."

She stopped.

"You knew?" she asked, looking up, quite steadily.

I nodded.

"Since when?"

"Those last days. . . . It hasn't seemed to matter really. I was a little surprised——"