I felt that I must go, and hastily, frantically. I could not face him when he woke; I should not have known what to say; I should have been abashed, timid, clumsy, unequal to myself. And, moreover, I had the egoist’s deep need to be alone, to examine my soul, to understand it intimately and utterly. And, lastly, I wanted to pay the bill of pleasure at once. I could never tolerate credit; I was like my aunt in that. Therefore, I must go home and settle the account in some way. I knew not how; I knew only that the thing must be done. Diaz had nothing to do with that; it was not his affair, and I should have resented his interference. Ah! when I was in the bill-paying mood, how hard I could be, how stony, how blind! And that morning I was like a Malay running amok.
Think not that when I was ready to depart I stopped and stooped to give him a final tender kiss. I did not even scribble a word of adieu or of explanation. I stole away on tiptoe, without looking at him. This sounds brutal, but it is a truth of my life, and I am writing my life—at least, I am writing those brief hours of my existence during which I lived. I had always a sort of fierce courage; and as I had proved the courage of my passion in the night, so I proved the courage of my—not my remorse, not my compunction, not my regret—but of my intellectual honesty in the morning. Proud and vain words, perhaps. Who can tell? No matter what sympathies I alienate, I am bound to say plainly that, though I am passionate, I am not sentimental. I came to him out of the void, and I went from him into the void. He found me, and he lost me. Between the autumn sunset and the autumn sunrise he had learnt to know me well, but he did not know my name nor my history; he had no clue, no cord to pull me back.
I passed into the sitting-room, dimly lighted through the drawn curtains, and there was the score of Tristan open on the piano. Yes; and if I were the ordinary woman I would add that there also were the ashes in the cold grate, and so symbolize the bitterness of memory and bring about a pang. But I have never regretted what is past. The cinders of that fire were to me cinders of a fire and nothing more.
In the doorway I halted. To go into the corridor was like braving the blast of the world, and I hesitated. Possibly I hesitated for a very little thing. Only the women among you will guess it. My dress was dark and severe. I had a simple, dark cloak. But I had no hat. I had no hat, and the most important fact in the universe for me then was that I had no hat. My whole life was changed; my heart and mind were in the throes of a revolution. I dared not imagine what would happen between my aunt and me; but this deficiency in my attire distressed me more than all else. At the other end of the obscure corridor was a chambermaid kneeling down and washing the linoleum. Ah, maid! Would I not have exchanged fates with you, then! I walked boldly up to her. She seemed to be surprised, but she continued to wring out a cloth in her pail as she looked at me.