"Nonsense," Hewet replied abruptly. "You like people. You like admiration. Your real grudge against Hirst is that he doesn't admire you."
She made no answer for some time. Then she said:
"That's probably true. Of course I like people—I like almost every one I've ever met."
She turned her back on the sea and regarded Hewet with friendly if critical eyes. He was good-looking in the sense that he had always had a sufficiency of beef to eat and fresh air to breathe. His head was big; the eyes were also large; though generally vague they could be forcible; and the lips were sensitive. One might account him a man of considerable passion and fitful energy, likely to be at the mercy of moods which had little relation to facts; at once tolerant and fastidious. The breadth of his forehead showed capacity for thought. The interest with which Rachel looked at him was heard in her voice.
"What novels do you write?" she asked.
"I want to write a novel about Silence," he said; "the things people don't say. But the difficulty is immense." He sighed. "However, you don't care," he continued. He looked at her almost severely. "Nobody cares. Never mind. It's the only thing worth doing." Whether or no he found the contemplation of the art of fiction so satisfactory as to drive all other wishes from his mind, he looked to Rachel as if he had forgotten her presence, or was annoyed by it. In his turn he looked out to sea. She was instantly depressed. As he talked of writing he had become suddenly impersonal. He might never care for any one; all that desire to know her and get at her, which she had felt pressing on her almost painfully, had completely vanished.
"Are you a good writer?" she asked shyly.
"Yes," he said. "I'm not first-rate, of course; I'm good second-rate; about as good as Thackeray, I should say."
Rachel was amazed. For one thing it amazed her to hear Thackeray called second-rate; and then she could not widen her point of view to believe that there could be great writers in existence at the present day, or if there were, that any one