Sabre stumbled into his house and pushed the door behind him with a resolution expressive of his desire to shut away from himself all creatures of the world and be alone,—be left entirely alone. By habit he climbed the stairs to his room. He collapsed into a chair.
His head was not aching; but there throbbed within his head, ceaselessly and enormously, a pulse that seemed to shake him at its every beat. It was going knock, knock, knock! He began to have the feeling that if this frightful knocking continued it would beat its way out. Something would give way. Amidst the purposeful reverberations, his mind, like one squeezed back in the dark corner of a lair of beasts, crouched shaking and appalled. He was the father of Effie’s child; he was the murderer of Effie and of her child! He was neither; but the crimes were fastened upon him as ineradicable pigment upon his skin. His skin was white but it was annealed black; there was not a glass of the mirrors of his past actions but showed it black and reflected upon it hue that was blacker yet. He was a betrayer and a murderer, and every refutation that he could produce turned to a brand in his hands and branded him yet more deeply. He writhed in torment. For ever, in every hour of every day and night, he would carry the memory of that fierce and sweating face pressing towards him across the table in that court. No! It was another face that passed before that passionate countenance and stood like flame before his eyes. Twyning! Twyning, Twyning, Twyning! The prompter, the goader of that passionate man’s passion, the instigater and instrument of this his utter and appalling destruction. Twyning, Twyning, Twyning! He ground his teeth upon the name. He twisted in his chair upon the thought. Twyning, Twyning, Twyning! Knock, knock, knock! Ah, that knocking, that knocking! Something was going to give way in a minute. It must be abated. It must. Something would give way else. A feverish desire to smoke came upon him. He felt in his pockets for his cigarette case. He had not got it. He thought after it. He remembered that he had started for Brighton without it, discovered there that he had left it behind. He started to hunt for it. It must be in this room. It was not to be seen in the room. Where? He remembered a previous occasion of searching for it like this. When? Ah, when Effie had told him she had found it lying about and had put it—of all absurd places for a cigarette case—in the back of the clock. Ten to one she had put it there again now. The very last thing she had done for him! Effie! He went quickly to the clock and opened it. Good! It was there. He snatched it up. Something else there. A folded paper. His name pencilled on it: Mr. Sabre.
She had left a message for him!
She had left a message for him! That cigarette case business had been deliberately done!
He fumbled the paper open. He could not control his fingers. He fumbled it open. He began to read. Tears stood in his eyes. Pitiful, oh, pitiful. He turned the page,—knock, knock, knock! The knocking suddenly ceased. He threw up his hand. He gave a very loud cry. A single note. A note of extraordinary exultation: “Ha!”