“How tired I am!” she thought, and then—“Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday—Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.”
He knew that nothing could ever possibly happen to him again and so he sat on his sofa waiting—for death, he supposed, having excluded every other possibility. He didn’t want to die, he didn’t want to do anything, to eat or drink or feel or think—above all, he didn’t want to move. He had shut his eyes trying to shut out the room. Every bit of it was saturated in her, everything had been consecrated—contaminated, it seemed to him now—by her touch. There wasn’t a patch of carpet or chintz that didn’t belong to her intimately and exclusively. Every object in the room seemed to pose her and add to the interminable picture gallery of his memory. He opened his eyes and saw an uncut pencil. Here, at any rate, was something new and independent—neutral territory, unsharpened it was an unloaded pistol and he wanted to shoot. At her? He was bound to miss. His bitterness was no medium through which to recapture her magic and without it he would merely be forcing a lay figure to perform vulgar and meaningless antics. And if he tore her to bits, it would be an indictment of himself, not of his gentlemanliness, that had long ceased to mean anything to him—but of his taste. Wearily, he shut his eyes. It was no good thinking when your mind had become a circle—a very small circle. He remembered something she had once said, “The future looks like the present, stretching interminably ahead in the shadow of the past.” She had always understood everything, so she didn’t deserve to be forgiven anything.
The front door bell rang and at once, he felt sick and faint. A ring still excited him as much as it had done in the days when it might have been hers. It was a ridiculous state of nerves that he had never been able to get out of.
A moment later she was in the room.
An absolute limpness had come over him. If his life had depended on it, he couldn’t have lifted his hand. The surface of his mind examined every detail of her—the intense whiteness of her face and the severe blackness of her clothes, the fact that she wore no jewel of any sort, not even a ring—except, of course, her wedding-ring. He had never seen it before and it seemed a gaudy splash of colour out of harmony with the rest of her.
She took off her hat and laid it on the table. Then she walked to the window, touching the things she passed with a little caressing gesture. He noticed that she picked up the unpointed pencil and he felt a little desolate feeling, as if he had lost his only friend.
Suddenly, she turned round, “I am leaving England to-morrow,” she said.
He shivered at her velvety voice, as he would have shivered had his hand touched suede. “Well,” his voice was too natural to be natural, “you don’t want to say good-bye to me again, do you?”