I gave him water, and he thanked me.
‘Now I will make some tea,’ I said.
And I went into the tiny kitchen and looked around, lifting my skirts.
‘Can you find the things?’ he called out.
‘Yes,’ I said.
‘What’s all that splashing?’ he inquired.
‘I’m washing a saucepan,’ I said.
‘I never have my meals here,’ he called. ’Only tea. There are two taps to the gas-stove—one a little way up the chimney.’
Yes, I was joyous, actively so. I brought the tea to the bedroom with a glad smile. I had put two cups on the tray, which I placed on the night-table; and there were some biscuits. I sat at the foot of the bed while we drank. And the umbrella, unperceived by Diaz, lay with its handle on a pillow, ludicrous and yet accusing.
‘You are an angel,’ said Diaz.
‘Don’t call me that,’ I protested.
‘Because I wish it,’ I said. ‘Angel’ was Ispenlove’s word.
‘Then, what shall I call you?’
‘My name is Carlotta Peel,’ I said. ‘Not Magdalen at all.’
It was astounding, incredible, that he should be learning my name then for the first time.
‘I shall always call you Magda,’ he responded.
‘And now I must go,’ I stated, when I had explained to him about the servant.
‘But you’ll come back?’ he cried.
No question of his coming to me! I must come to him!
‘To a place like this?’ I demanded.
Unthinkingly I put into my voice some of the distaste I felt for his deplorable apartments, and he was genuinely hurt. I believe that in all honesty he deemed his apartments to be quite adequate and befitting. His sensibilities had been so dulled.
He threw up his head.
‘Of course,’ he said, ‘if you—’
‘No, no!’ I stopped him quickly. ’I will come here. I was only teasing you. Let me see. I’ll come back at four, just to see how you are. Won’t you get up in the meantime?’
He smiled, placated.
‘I may do,’ he said. ’I’ll try to. But in case I don’t, will you take my key? Where did you put it last night?’
‘I have it,’ I said.
He summoned me to him just as I was opening the door.
‘What is it?’
‘You are magnificent,’ he replied, with charming, impulsive eagerness, his eyes resting upon me long. He was the old Diaz again. ’I can’t thank you. But when you come back I shall play to you.’
‘Till four o’clock,’ I said.
‘Magda,’ he called again, just as I was leaving, ’bring one of your books with you, will you?’
I hesitated, with my hand on the door. When I gave him my name he had made no sign that it conveyed to him anything out of the ordinary. That was exactly like Diaz.
‘Have you read any of them?’ I asked loudly, without moving from the door.