MONICA and her husband, on leaving the house in Queen's Road, walked slowly in the eastward direction. Though night had fallen, the air was not unpleasant; they had no object before them, and for five minutes they occupied themselves with their thoughts. Then Widdowson stopped.
'Shall we go home again?' he asked, just glancing at Monica, then letting his eyes stray vaguely in the gloom.
'I should like to see Milly, but I'm afraid I can hardly take you there to call with me.'
'It's a very poor little sitting-room, you know, and she might have some friend.--Isn't there anywhere you could go, and meet me afterwards?'
Frowning, Widdowson looked at his watch.
'Nearly six o'clock. There isn't much time.'
' Edmund,--suppose you go home, and let me come back by myself? You wouldn't mind, for once? I should like so much to have a talk with Milly. If I got back about nine or half-past, I could have a little supper, and that's all I should want.'
He answered abruptly.
'Oh, but I can't have you going about alone at night.'
'Why not?' answered Monica, with a just perceptible note of irritation. 'Are you afraid I shall be robbed or murdered?'
'Nonsense. But you mustn't be alone.'
'Didn't I always use to be alone?'
He made an angry gesture.
'I have begged you not to speak of that. Why do you say what you know is disagreeable to me? You used to do all sorts of things that you never ought to have been obliged to do, and it's very painful to remember it.'
Monica, seeing that people were approaching, walked on, and neither spoke until they had nearly reached the end of the road.
'I think we had better go home,' Widdowson at length remarked.
'If you wish it,--but I really don't see why I shouldn't call on Milly, now that we are here.'