Page:The Voyage Out.djvu/193

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191
THE VOYAGE OUT

his body on the battlefield. I wish I'd known him. Mother had all the life crushed out of her. The world—" She clenched her fist. "Oh, people can be horrid to a woman like that!" She turned upon Hewet.

"Well," she said, "d'you want to know any more about me?"

"But you?" he asked. "Who looked after you?"

"I've looked after myself mostly," she laughed. "I've had splendid friends. I do like people! That's the trouble. What would you do if you liked two people, both of them tremendously, and you couldn't tell which most?"

"I should go on liking them—I should wait and see. Why not?"

"But one has to make up one's mind," said Evelyn. "Or are you one of the people who doesn't believe in marriage and all that? Look here—this isn't fair, I do all the telling, and you tell nothing. Perhaps you're the same as your friend"—she looked at him suspiciously; "perhaps you don't like me?"

"I don't know you," said Hewet.

"I know when I like a person directly I see them! I knew I liked you the very first night at dinner. Oh dear," she continued impatiently, "what a lot of bother would be saved if only people would say the things they think straight out! I'm made like that. I can't help it."

"But don't you find it leads to difficulties?" Hewet asked.

"That's men's fault," she answered. "They always drag it in—love, I mean."

"And so you've gone on having one proposal after another," said Hewet.

"I don't suppose I've had more proposals than most women," said Evelyn, but she spoke without conviction.

"Five, six, ten?" Hewet ventured.

Evelyn seemed to intimate that perhaps ten was the right figure, but that really it was not a high one.

"I believe you're thinking me a heartless flirt," she protested. "But I don't care if you are. I don't care what any one thinks of me. Just because one's interested and likes to be friends with men, and talk to them as one talks to women, one's called a flirt."

"But Miss Murgatroyd——"