“Is there such a thing as ‘good-bye,’” she mused; “won’t this room always be a part of my life? Can one end anything? A chapter, a paragraph, a sentence even? Doesn’t everything one has ever done go on living in spite of subsequent events?”
Relentlessly he brought her down from her generalisations.
“You have ended my life,” he said.
“Oh, no.” She was sitting beside him on the sofa. Gently and tentatively she put her hand on his. “Take it away,” he said roughly, miserably, conscious that he was behaving like a hero of melodrama, and then more quietly, “can’t you spare me anything?”
“I never could spare any one anything, could I? Not even myself?”
He resisted the wistful pleading of her eyes, taking a savage pleasure in their tired look. No doubt the preparations for her journey had exhausted her. Her hand was lying limply on the arm of the sofa.
“What does it feel like to wear a wedding-ring?” he asked harshly.
“It feels so strange at first. One keeps catching sight of it and being made to feel different by it. Somehow, it really matters, it really seems to mean something.”
“Indeed?” He was ashamed of the cheap cynicism of his tone. It wasn’t what he had meant to say.
She waited a few minutes and then she got up and put on her hat, deftly arranging her veil with almost mechanical quickness and skill. Then she pulled on her gloves. How well he knew the swift deliberateness of her movements. Without turning round she left the room. He heard her go into the dining-room.... A few minutes later, he heard her come out again. He heard her open and shut the front door.... He went to the open window. Would she look up? Surely that was the test of whether or not she was still the same—the eternal. In the past, whatever had happened between them, she had never been able to resist that final peep, half to see whether he was there, half to send up a little tiny semi-binding glance of reconciliation. Sometimes, when he had been very angry with her he had watched from behind the curtains. To-day, he was at the open window, waiting to send her the smile which was to obliterate the past half-hour, the past six months. It was not to be so much a smile as a look, a benediction.
She got into her taxi. Through the far window she told the driver where to go. She never glanced behind her, she never glanced up.
He shut the window with a shiver. “The end,” he murmured.
[To JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES]
Her greatness was an accepted fact. Her fame had not been a dashing offensive but an inevitable advance quietly over-running the world. People who never read knew her name as well as Napoleon’s. There was, somehow, something a little irreverent about being her contemporary. To attend the birth of so many masterpieces gave you the feeling of a legendary past invading the present.