“Come, move on,” he brusquely ordered. Her vacillation promptly vanished, and she resolutely mounted the steps. She put out her hand to ring, but the door flew silently open and a man-servant stood looking at her.
“I have some friends here,” she said, speaking coarsely.
“You will have to be introduced,” said the man. She hesitated and started to turn away. Thrusting her hand in her pocket it closed upon her husband’s card-case. She presented a card. It worked a rapid transformation in the servant’s manner, which did not escape her.
“Come in,” he invited her.
She did not stop at the outstretched arm of the cloakman, but glided quickly up the stairs toward a vision of handsome women and strains of music. Harry Cresswell was sitting opposite and bending over an impudent blue-and-blonde beauty. Mary slipped straight across to him and leaned across the table. The hat fell off, but she let it go.
“Harry!” she tried to say as he looked up.
Then the table swayed gently to and fro; the room bowed and whirled about; the voices grew fainter and fainter—all the world receded suddenly far away. She extended her hands languidly, then, feeling so utterly tired, let her eyelids drop and fell asleep.
She awoke with a start, in her own bed. She was physically exhausted but her mind was clear. She must go down and meet him at breakfast and talk frankly with him. She would let bygones be bygones. She would explain that she had followed him to save him, not to betray him. She would point out the greater career before him if only he would be a man; she would show him that they had not failed. For herself she asked nothing, only his word, his confidence, his promise to try.
After his first start of surprise at seeing her at the table, Cresswell uttered nothing immediately save the commonplaces of greeting. He mentioned one or two bits of news from the paper, upon which she commented while dawdling over her egg. When the servant went out and closed the door, she paused a moment considering whether to open by appeal or explanation. His smooth tones startled her:
“Of course, after your art exhibit and the scene of last night, Mary, it will be impossible for us to live longer together.”
She stared at him, utterly aghast—voiceless and numb.
“I have seen the crisis approaching for some time, and the Negro business settles it,” he continued. “I have now decided to send you to my home in Alabama, to my father or your brother. I am sure you will be happier there.”
He rose. Bowing courteously, he waited, coldly and calmly, for her to go.
All at once she hated him and hated his aristocratic repression; this cold calm that hid hell and its fires. She looked at him, wide-eyed, and said in a voice hoarse with horror and loathing:
“You brute! You nasty brute!”