A few minutes later they were again in the cab jogging wearily across London to Southampton Row; and the little empty drawing-room with all its vanities looked somewhat ghostly, lit as it was by the day and by the frivolously shaded electric light which they had forgotten to switch off.
When Septimus had seen Emmy admitted to the Ravenswood Hotel, he stood on the gloomy pavement outside wondering what he should do. Then it occurred to him that he belonged to a club—a grave, decorous place where the gay pop of a champagne cork had been known to produce a scandalized silence in the luncheon-room, and where serious-minded members congregated to scowl at one another’s unworthiness from behind newspapers. A hansom conveyed him thither. In the hall he struggled over two telegrams which had caused him most complicated thought during his drive. The problem was to ease Zora’s mind and to obtain a change of raiment without disclosing the whereabouts of either Emmy or himself. This he had found no easy matter, diplomacy being the art of speaking the truth with intent to deceive, and so finely separated from sheer lying as to cause grave distress to Septimus’s candid soul. At last, after much wasting of telegraph forms, he decided on the following:
To Zora: “Emmy safe in London. So am I. Don’t worry. Devotedly, Septimus.”
To Wiggleswick: “Bring clothes and railway carriage diagrams secretly to Club.”
Having dispatched these, he went into the coffee-room and ordered breakfast. The waiters served him in horrified silence. A gaunt member, breakfasting a few tables off, asked for the name of the debauchee, and resolved to write to the Committee. Never in the club’s history had a member breakfasted in dress clothes—and in such disreputably disheveled dress clothes! Such dissolute mohocks were a stumbling-block and an offense, and the gaunt member, who had prided himself on going by clockwork all his life, felt his machinery in some way dislocated by the spectacle. But Septimus ate his food unconcernedly, and afterwards, mounting to the library, threw himself into a chair before the fire and slept the sleep of the depraved till Wiggleswick arrived with his clothes. Then, having effected an outward semblance of decency, he went to the Ravenswood Hotel. Wiggleswick he sent back to Nunsmere.
Emmy entered the prim drawing-room where he had been waiting for her, the picture of pretty flower-like misery, her delicate cheeks white, a hunted look in her baby eyes. A great pang of pity went through the man, hurting him physically. She gave him a limp hand, and sat down on a saddle-bag sofa, while he stood hesitatingly before her, balancing himself first on one leg and then on the other.