“No,” she said puzzled. “Of course not.”
“Then let’s throw them into it quickly,” he said, “and we’ll lock the thing up. Do you owe any rent?”
“Roddy!” she said. He heard her moving behind him. She struck a match and lighted the gas. Then came around in front of him and stared at him in frowning incredulity. “What do you mean?”
“I mean we’re going to get out of this abominable place now—to-night. We’re going home. We can leave an address for the trunk. If it never comes, so much the better.”
Again all she could do was to ask him, with a bewildered stammer, what he meant. “Because,” she added, “I can’t go home yet. I’ve—only started.”
“Started!” he echoed. “Do you think I’m going to let this beastly farce go any further?”
And with that the smoldering fire licked up into flame again. He told her what had happened in his office this afternoon; told her of the attitude of his friends, how they’d all known about it—undoubtedly had come to see for themselves, and, out of pity or contempt, hadn’t told him. He told her how he’d felt, sitting there in the theater; why he’d waited at the stage door for her. He accused her, as with its self-engendered heat his wrath burned brighter, of having selected the thing to do that would hurt him worst, of having borne a grudge against him and avenged it.
It was the ignoblest moment of his life, and he knew it. The accusations he was making against her were nothing to those that were storing up in his mind against himself. The sense of rightness that would have made him gentle, had been carried away by the passion he’d shared with her, and he couldn’t get it back.
He didn’t look at her as he talked, and she didn’t interrupt; said no word of denial or defense. The big outburst spent itself. He lapsed into an uneasy silence, got himself together again, and went on trying to restate his grievance—this time more reasonably, retracting a little. But under her continued silence, he grew weakly irritated again.
When at last she spoke, he turned his eyes toward her and saw a sort of frozen look in her dull white face that he had never seen in it before. Her intonation was monotonous, her voice scarcely audible.
“I guess I understand,” she said. “I don’t know whether I wish I was dead or not. If I’d died when the babies were born ... But I’m glad I came away when I did. And I’m glad,”—she gave a faint shudder there at the alternative—“I’m glad I’ve got a job and that I can pay back that hundred dollars I owe you. I’ve had it quite a while. But I’ve kept it, hoping you might find out where I was and come to me, as you did, and that we might have a chance to talk. I thought I’d tell you how I’d earned it, and that you’d be a little—proud with me about it, proud that I could pay it back so soon.”
She smiled a little over that, a smile he had to turn away from. But this tortured smile shriveled in the flame of passion with which she went on. “If I couldn’t pay it back to-night, after this, I’d feel like killing myself, or like—going out and earning it in the streets. Because that’s what you’ve made me to-night!”