So a big family ah … … so complex lookTwo days later he was lounging on the terrace of the hotel, lazily watching the throng of Arabs, donkeys, and beggars jostling one another along the Esbekleh street, when his attention was suddenly attracted by a ragged individual, with a very black countenance and a basket of flowers, who was evidently trying to catch his eye. Frederick, leaning over the balustrade, was about to throw a few piasters to the man, when the latter suddenly broke loose from the crowd, and walking up the marble steps, “salaamed” to him in the most approved fashion; then squatting down on the ground in front of him, he extracted a bunch of flowers from his basket. Frederick was about to motion him away, when the man hurriedly thrust the roses into his hands, whispering in a low, guttural voice:”Yes, the real-estate business. It’s perfectly corking! Howard Maitland says he thinks she’s simply great to[Pg 22] do it. I only wish I could go into business and earn some money!””Is there anything in this world duller than the pronunciamento of a dull woman!” he said to himself. On the street, for sheer relief of feeling the cool air against his face, instead of the warm stillness of Mrs. Payton’s sitting-room, he did not hail the approaching car, but strolled aimlessly along the pavement, sticky with fog.
“No,” Laura sighed. “Billy-boy would have a fit if I smoked.” She looked at Fred a little enviously. “I’m crazy to,” she confessed.Howard Maitland’s departure in January for the Philippines surprised several people.”Do I look like a suffragist?” the other man demanded.”You evidently didn’t hang round?”CHAPTER XII”I was telling you of the woman’s movement in Sweden,” she said, affronted.He climbed down the little bluff and waded into the sedge. The swaying mass that had looked like a stone until a larger wave stirred it, came in nearer the shore, caught on the shoaling beach, rolled, and was still. Frederica saw him bend over it, then try, frantically, to lift it in his arms. She put the lamp on the wharf. (“Don’t touch it, Zip!”), slid, catching at tufts of grass, and bending branches—down the crumbling bank, plunged into the water up to her knees, and together, half pulling, half carrying that sodden bundle, they stumbled over the oozy bottom and through the sedges. The lifting it up the bluff was terrible; the dripping figure, sagging and bending, was so heavy!The very next morning Laura had burst into 15 Payton Street. “Swear not to tell,” she said; and when Fred had sworn, the secret—glowing, wonderful! was told in two words:When the letter was addressed and sealed, he went out into the four-o’clock-in-the-morning stillness, and walked over to Payton Street to slip it into the letter-box of the sleeping house. He would not trust it to the mail; he would run no risk of Laura’s arriving before the first delivery. Fred mustn’t be caught off guard! Then he walked home—glanced at a little suspiciously by an officer on his somnolent beat—about as uncomfortable a young man as ever realized his own happiness in contrast to some one else’s unhappiness—for, in spite of his modest disclaimer, he knew that Fred was unhappy: “How would[Pg 248] I feel if Laura had refused me? And, of course, Fred is harder hit than a man would be.”[Pg 264]”I never knew him,” she said.”What!””Be still!” she said; and gave him another lump of sugar.”Good. I’m starving.”She poured water for him from theafiawa to wash his handswith. As he dried with a towel, she put before him a steamingbowlof daal and a plate of fluffy white rice. This was the firstmeal she had cooked for him, and Mariam wished she hadbeen in a better state when she made it. She’d still beenshaken from the incident at the tandoor as she’d cooked, andall day she had fretted about thedaal’% consistency, its color,worried that he would think she’d stirred in too much gingeror not enough turmeric.If so, why did Rasheed insist thatshe cover when he thoughtnothing of looking at the private areas of other men’s wivesand sisters?”I think it’s a boy. Yes. A boy.”A murmur was passing through the bus. Some passengerswere pointing at something and other passengers were leaningacross seats to see. nike mens shoes cheap When Mariam thought of this baby, her heart swelled insideof her. It swelled and swelled until all the loss, all the grief, allthe loneliness and self-abasement of her life washed away. Thiswas why God had brought her here, all the way across thecountry. She knew this now. She remembered a verse fromthe Koran that Mullah Faizullah had taught her:And Allah isthe East and the West, therefore wherever you turn there isAllah’s purpose … She laid down her prayer rug anddidnamaz. When she was done, she cupped her hands beforeher face and asked God not to let all this good fortune slipaway from her.* * *It was Rasheed’S idea to go to thehamam. Mariam had neverbeen to a bathhouse, but he said there was nothing finer thanstepping out and taking that first breath of cold air, to feel theheat rising from the skin.”And my mother is not a young woman anymore,” he wassaying. “They’re so afraid all the time. Laila, look at me.””You should have told me.””Please look at me.”A groan came out of Laila. Then a wail. And then she wascrying, and when he went to wipe her cheek with the pad ofhis thumb she swiped his hand away. It was selfish andirrational, but she was furious with him for abandoning her,Tariq, who was like an extension of her, whose shadow sprungbeside hers in every memory. How could he leave her? Sheslapped him. Then she slapped him again and pulled at hishair, and he had to take her by the wrists, and he was sayingsomething she couldn’t make out, he was saying it softly,reasonably, and, somehow, they ended up brow to brow, noseto nose, and she could feel the heat of his breath on her lipsagain. nike mens shoes cheap An hour later, they were inside, Mariam and Rasheed,following the doorman. Their heels clicked on the tiled floor asthey were led across the pleasantly cool lobby. Mariam saw twomen sitting on leather chairs, rifles and a coffee table betweenthem, sipping black tea and eating from a plate ofsyrup-coatedjelabi, rings sprinkled with powdered sugar. Shethought of Aziza, who lovedjelabi, and tore her gaze away.”Oh, nothing much,” said Matt, “that is—well, she said it was too bad that you couldn’t get out, and that you should have to suffer for somebody else’s meanness, but she hoped you’d never gamble again.””I’ll buy my boy the best and largest set of tools that you can select,” said the doctor.The faithful old servitor got into a taxi. “110A, Harley Street,” said he to the driver; “and drive quick and I’ll give you an extra tuppence.””How?””Ten thousand what?” nike mens shoes cheap “These aren’t what you wore last night,” said Mudd; “there was two pounds ten in the pockets of what you had on. Here it is, on the mantel.””He did,” said Mudd grimly. “He’d got that ten-pound note I was fool enough to let him[Pg 201] have. Yes, he stuck to beer, and so did the chaps he was treating.””Yes, Mr. Robert, he’s gone on her in his foolish way, and she can twist him round her finger like a child. When he’s with her he’s a different person, out of sight of her he’s another man.””Oh yes,” said Brownlow. “Sit down, Mr. Tidd. Those papers—Mr. Pettigrew has been considering them.””Oh! But I want it to-day.”