“Dearest! Dearest!” moaned Olga. “Won’t you try to forget it—try to think of other things for a little?”
Violet continued as if she had not heard her. “You know, it’s curious that it never occurred to me before. I’ve had such queer sensations—all sorts of funny things going on inside me. It began like a curious thirst—a very horrible sort of craving, Allegro. That was what made me take to those cigarettes. I never felt it when I was smoking them. They made me so deliriously sleepy. It was terrible when—he—took them away. I felt as if he had pushed me over a deep abyss. I really can’t do without them. They make me float when I’m going to sink.”
She paused, and passed a weary hand across her brow. “Why have I been crying so, Allegro? I hardly ever cry. Was I sorry for someone? Was it my mother? Fancy her doing—that!” The heavy eyes grew suddenly wide and bright. “I wonder if she would have killed me too if she had lived. I know exactly what made her do it. I should have done it myself—yes, and revelled in it. Can’t you imagine it? The night and the darkness, and oneself lying there pretending to be asleep and waiting—waiting—for the man one hated.” Suddenly the wide eyes glowed red. “Think of it—think of it, Allegro!—how one would feel for the point of the knife when one heard his step, and hide it away under the pillow when at last he came in. How one’s flesh would creep when he lay down! How one’s ears would shout and clamour while one waited for him to sleep! And then—and then—when he began to breathe slowly and one knew that he was unconscious—how inch by inch one would draw out one’s hand with the knife and raise the bedclothes, and plunge it hard and deep into his breast! Would he struggle, Allegro? Would he open his eyes to see his own life-blood spout out? Would he be frightened, or angry, or just surprised? I think he would be surprised, don’t you? He wouldn’t give his wife credit for hating him so much. Men don’t, you know. They never realize how far hatred will drive a woman until it pushes her over the edge. I think he would hardly believe his own eyes even then, unless he saw her laughing!” A burst of wild laughter broke from Violet’s lips, but she smothered it with her handkerchief.
“I mustn’t laugh,” she said, “though I’m sure she did. And I want to talk to you seriously, Allegro.”
“Dear, do lie down and rest!” Olga urged her gently. “That hateful story has given you a shock. Do try and remember that there’s nothing new about it. It all happened years ago. And you are no different now than you were this morning before you heard it.”
Violet leaned her head back again upon the pillows, but her eyes roved unceasingly. “But then I was mad this morning,” she said, “only I didn’t know it. Do you know, I think madness is a sort of state in which people lose their souls and yet go on living. Or else the soul goes blind. I’ve thought of that too. But I think my soul has gone on. I shall go and find it presently. You must help me.”