TWO
CONFERENCE AT NIGHT

The next night George was lecturing at the School. I attended, and we went out of the room together; Jack was waiting in the corridor.

"We go straight to see Olive," said George, bustling kindly to the point. "I've told her to bring news of the Calverts." Jack's face lit up: he seemed more uneasy than the night before.

We went to a café close by the School, on a narrow street off the main London road; this café stayed open all night, chiefly for lorry drivers working between London and the north; it was lit by gas mantles without shades, and smelt of gas, paraffin and the steam of tea. The window was opaque with steam, and we could not see Olive until we got inside: but she was there, sitting with Rachel in the corner of the room, behind a table with a linoleum cover.

"I'm sorry you're being damaged, Jack," Olive said.

"I expect I shall get used to it," said Jack, with the mischievous, ardent smile that was first nature to him when he spoke to a pretty woman.

"I expect you will," said Olive.

"Come on," said George. "I want to hear your report about your family. I oughtn't to raise false hopes" -- he turned to Jack -- "I can only think of one way of intervening for you. And the only chance of that depends on whether the Calverts have committed themselves."

We were close together, round the table. George sat at the end; though he was immersed in the struggle, his hearty appetite went mechanically on; and, while he was speaking intently to Jack, he munched a thick sandwich from which the ham stuck out, and stirred a great cup of tea with a lead spoon.

-11-

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