I didn’t go to the club next Thursday. As it happened, I was lunching with some one else. So, by Thursday evening, I hadn’t seen Jane for a week.
Wanting company, I went to Katherine’s flat after dinner. Katherine had just finished dinner, and with her was Jane.
When I saw her, lying there smoking in the most comfortable arm-chair as usual, serene and lazy and pale, Juke’s words blazed up between us like a fire, and I couldn’t look at her.
I don’t know what we talked about; I expect I was odd and absent. I knew Katherine was looking at me, with those frosty, piercing, light blue eyes of hers that saw through, and through, and beyond....
All the time I was saying to myself, ’This won’t do. I must chuck it. We mustn’t meet.’
I think Jane talked about Abraham Lincoln, which she disliked, and Lady Pinkerton’s experiments in spiritualism, which were rather funny. But I couldn’t have been there for more than half an hour before Jane got up to go. She had to get home, she said.
I went with her. I didn’t mean to, but I did. And here, if any one wants to know why I regard ‘being in love’ as a disastrous kink in the mental machinery, is the reason. It impels you to do things against all your reasoned will and intentions. My madness drove me out with Jane, drove me to see her home by the Hampstead tube, to walk across the Vale of Health with her in the moonlight, to go in with her, and upstairs to the drawing-room.
All this time we had talked little, and of common, superficial things. But now, as I stood in the long, dimly-lit room and watched Jane take off her hat, drop it on a table, and stand for a moment with her back to me, turning over the evening post, I knew that I must somehow have it out, have things clear and straight between us. It seemed to me to be the only way of striking any sort of a path through the intricate difficulties of our future relations.
‘Jane,’ I said, and she turned and looked at me with questioning gray eyes.
At that I had no words for explanation or anything else: I could only repeat, ‘Jane. Jane. Jane,’ like a fool.
She said, very low, ‘Yes, Arthur,’ as if she were assenting to some statement I had made, as perhaps she was.
I somehow found that I had caught her hands in mine, and so we stood together, but still I said nothing but ‘Jane,’ because that was all that, for the moment, I knew.
Hobart stood in the open doorway, looking at us, white and quiet.
‘Good-evening,’ he said.
We fell apart, loosing each other’s hands.
‘You’re early back, Oliver,’ said Jane, composedly.
‘Earlier, obviously,’ he returned, ‘than I was expected.’
My anger, my hatred, my contempt for him and my own shame blazed in me together. I faced him, black and bitter, and he was not only to me Jane’s husband, the suspicious, narrow-minded ass to whom she was tied, but, much more, the Potterite, the user of cant phrases, the ignorant player to the gallery of the Pinkerton press, the fool who had so little sense of his folly that he disputed on facts with the experts who wrote for the Weekly Fact. In him, at that moment, I saw all the Potterism of this dreadful world embodied, and should have liked to have struck it dead.