'Why, what will he do?
'Why, what will he do?' asked Mrs. Macphail.
'I don't know, but I wouldn't stand in that creature's shoes for anything in the world.'
Mrs. Macphail shuddered. There was something positively alarming in the triumphant assurance of the little woman's manner. They were going out together that morning, and they went down the stairs side by side. Miss Thompson's door was open, and they saw her in a bedraggled dressing-gown, cooking something in a chafing-dish.
'Good morning,' she called. 'Is Mr. Davidson better this morning?'
They passed her in silence, with their noses in the air, as if she did not exist. They flushed, however, when she burst into a shout of derisive laughter. Mrs. Davidson turned on her suddenly.
'Don't you dare to speak to me,' she screamed. 'If you insult me I shall have you turned out of here. '
'Say, did I ask Mr. Davidson to visit with me?'
'Don't answer her,' whispered Mrs. Macphail hurriedly.
They walked on till they were out of earshot.
'She's brazen, brazen,' burst from Mrs. Davidson.
Her anger almost suffocated her.
And on their way home they met her strolling towards the quay. She had all her finery on. Her great white hat with its vulgar, showy flowers was an affront. She called out cheerily to them as she went by, and a couple of American sailors who were standing there grinned as the ladies set their faces to an icy stare. They got in just before the rain began to fall again.
'I guess she'll get her fine clothes spoilt,' said Mrs. Davidson with a bitter sneer.
Davidson did not come in till they were half-way through dinner. He was wet through, but he would not change. He sat, morose and silent, refusing to eat more than a mouthful, and he stared at the slanting rain. When Mrs. Davidson told him of their two encounters with Miss Thompson he did not answer. His deepening frown alone showed that he had heard.
'Don't you think we ought to make Mr. Horn turn her out of here?' asked Mrs. Davidson. 'We can't allow her to insult us.'
'There doesn't seem to be any other place for her to go,' said Macphail.
'She can live with one of the natives.'
'In weather like this a native hut must be a rather uncomfortable place to live in.'
'I lived in one for years,' said the missionary.
When the little native girl brought in the fried bananas, which formed the sweet they had every day, Davidson turned to her.
Ask Miss Thompson when it would be convenient for me to see her,' he said.
The girl nodded shyly and went out.
'What do you want to see her for, Alfred?' asked his wife.
'It's my duty to see her. I won't act till I've given her every chance.'
'You don't know what she is. She'll insult you.'
'Let her insult me. Let her spit on me. She has an immortal soul, and I must do all that is in my power to save it.'
Mrs. Davidson's ears rang still with the harlot's mocking laughter.
'She's gone too far.'
'Too far for the mercy of God?' His eyes lit up suddenly and his voice grew mellow and soft. 'Never. The sinner may be deeper in sin than the depth of hell 1 itself, but the love of the Lord Jesus can reach him still.'
The girl came back with the message.
'Miss Thompson's compliments and as long as Rev Davidson don't come in business hours she'll be glad to see him any time.'
The party received it in stony silence, and Dr Macphail quickly effaced from his lips the smile, which had come upon them. He knew his wife would be vexed with him if he found Miss Thompson's effrontery amusing.
They finished the meal in silence. When it was over the two ladies got up and took their work. Mrs. Macphail was making another of the innumerable comforters, which she had turned out since the beginning of the war, and the doctor lit his pipe. But Davidson remained in his chair and with abstracted eyes stared at the table. At last he got up and without a word went out of the room. They heard him go down and they heard Miss Thompson's defiant 'Come in' when he knocked at the door. He remained with her for an hour. And Dr Macphail watched the rain. It was beginning to get on his nerves. It was not like soft English rain that drops gently on the earth; it was unmerciful and somehow terrible; you felt in it the malignancy of the primitive powers of nature. It did not pour, it flowed. It was like a deluge from heaven, and it rattled on the roof of corrugated iron with a steady persistence that was maddening. It seemed to have a fury of its own. And sometimes you felt that you must scream if it did not stop, and then suddenly you felt powerless, as though your bones had suddenly become soft; and you were miserable and hopeless.