She turned towards him and saw that he was lying on the grass. His shoulders were shaking. She knew that he was crying. That seemed terrible to her. She had to run, then, very quickly away from him or she would have stayed—and been soft. As she ran she, too, was crying.
Louis was on the verandah as she came round the fence. She saw his eyes blazing madly, his face distorted, his hands clenched. He came to meet her, raging.
“Where’ve you been?” he choked out.
She waved her hand over towards where Kraill was. She could not speak.
“Whose is this hat? It’s that damned professor’s!”
“Where is he? Why are you crying? He’s come here after you!” he raved.
“He’s gone,” she said faintly. “Gone—for always. Except in my thoughts—inhibited thoughts—thoughts washed and boiled—thoughts—Oh—sterilized.”
“What in hell are you talking about?” he cried, taking her by the shoulders and shaking her fiercely. “Why are you crying, I say?”
“Because he’s gone,” she said, and cried all the more.
“My God! The impudence of it—telling me,” he shouted, and seemed to be strangling with rage.
“The—the—honesty of it, Louis. Oh and—the—the awfulness of it! I’m crying because I can’t bear it!”
“You—you—” he gasped, and paused for a word.
“Louis,” she said, raising wet, miserable eyes to his. “I’ve sent him away, but I daren’t, daren’t trust myself not to run after him. Oh and it would so spoil things for him and all of us if I did! Listen, Louis, can’t you grab me and not let me go after him? I can’t hold myself back, and I did promise him I wouldn’t let my thoughts get greedy! He said I was in armour—Louis, my dear, I’ve tried to help you so often when you were being torn in two. Can’t you—my dear—it’s your turn now.”
“You damned adulterer!” he gasped, finding the word at last.
She sobbed, and in her sobs he saw fear, guilt. He flung her to the ground, repeating the word.
“Oh you silly, silly fool,” she cried. “He’s better than that—if I’m not.”
“Then what in hell are you crying about?”
“Because I’m not—not a damned adulterer!” the words were torn from her. “But I can’t clean my thoughts of wanting to be. My dear—after so long—I’ve helped you and been patient. Can’t you do something—now, to make me able to bear it?”
“Now you know what it is to—” he began with an ugly laugh. Then rage seized him. “I’ll break his damned neck,” he cried.
“That’s no use! What will that do to me? You can’t kill the love that’s tearing me up, by smashing his body to bits! You see, Louis, I’ve got him, for ever and ever. The shining, knightly side of me has. But it’s the greedy side of me—the side that makes you grab out for whisky—that’s sticking teeth into me now. And you know how it hurts.”