Mr Chesterton grabbed Miss Wright’s hand, pulling her closer to him. They were walking between two rows of houses, stately but with no character or mystery, somewhere between Kensington and Fulham, after their madcap jaunt around London.
‘How are we going to get home?’ asked Barbara, ever-practical. ‘We’re across from Battersea. I don’t want to walk across the whole of London after dark–even with you.’
Ian chuckled. ‘I’m sure I don’t know,’ he said. ‘We should’ve got used to not having a permanent home. We can do this. How much money do we have?’
Barbara looked in her purse. ‘Fifty quid, thirteen dollars, two hundred and ten ‘Euros,’ whatever they are, and sixty-three hyper-pounds.’
‘That should be enough for a one-night cheap hotel,’ said Ian.
‘Oh, you’re so romantic,’ laughed Barbara, elbowing Ian hard in the side. He gave her a grimace of fake pain. ‘What are we going to tell them once we get back?’
‘That’s a good question,’ said Ian. ‘I’m sure we can come up with something. They may be a bit put off about not getting a postcard, though. What is it, June?’
‘Yes, late June. The very beginning of summer. Say…’ began Barbara. ‘Whitsun will have been a few weeks ago. We could pretend that we got married!’
‘What?’ Ian laughed. ‘And lived in sin for the year and a half before that? Preposterous, Miss Wright!’
‘Haven’t we had this conversation before?’
‘Yes, it was in…Rome, I believe?’
‘Yes, yes, Canton. Of course.’ Ian squeezed her hand even tighter. ‘The Doctor had three of those rings. I think I might have one on me from four or five journeys back.’
He fished around in his pockets for a few minutes, standing in the middle of the street, with Barbara halfway between him and the pavement on one side.
‘Here!’ he said, holding up a ring with a chunky blue-black stone. He ran over to Barbara and took her left hand in his. ‘Barbara Wright, would you do me the honour of…’
‘Yes,’ interrupted Barbara. Ian smiled, and slid the ring on to Barbara’s fourth finger. She withdrew her hand and flexed it a few times, getting a feel for the ring that she would very probably be wearing until they could find a vicar.
‘So,’ said Ian. ‘Would the future Mrs Chesterton care for a lift home?’
‘Pardon?’ said Barbara. ‘We’ve been on foot for hours.’
‘There’s a junkyard around here somewhere. I think there should be a few old cars. The Doctor taught me a thing or two about how to make them work.’
‘You know?’ said Barbara. ‘I’m beginning to think that getting into that phone box was the best choice we’ve ever made.’