The curtain came down and the lights went up for the interval. A brass band played very loud. Joanna was beginning to have a bit of a headache, but she said nothing—she did not want him to leave on her account—or to find that he did not think of leaving.... She felt very hot, and fanned herself with her programme. Most of the audience were hot.
“Joanna,” said Bert, “don’t you ever use powder?”
“Powder? What d’you mean?”
“Face-powder—what most girls use. Your skin wouldn’t get red and shiny like that if you had some powder on it.”
“I’d never dream of using such a thing. I’d be ashamed.”
“Why be ashamed of looking decent?”
“I wouldn’t look decent—I’d look like a hussy. Sometimes when I see these gals’ faces I—”
“Really, Jo, to hear you speak one ud think you were the only virtuous woman left in England. But there are just one or two things in your career, my child, which don’t quite bear out that notion.”
Joanna’s heart gave a sudden bound, then seemed to freeze.
She leaned forward in her chair, staring at the advertisements on the curtain. Bertie put his arm round her—“I say, ole girl, you ain’t angry with me, are you?” She made no reply—she could not speak; too much was happening in her thoughts—had happened, rather, for her mind was now quite made up. A vast, half-conscious process seemed suddenly to have settled itself, leaving her quite clear-headed and calm.
“You ain’t angry with me, are you?” repeated Bert.
“No,” said Joanna—“I’m not angry with you.”
He had been cruel and selfish when she was in trouble, he had shown no tenderness for her physical fatigue, and now at last he had taunted her with the loss of her respectability for his sake. But she was not angry with him.... It was only that now she knew she could never, never marry him.
That night she slept heavily—the deep sleep of physical exhaustion and mental decision. The unconscious striving of her soul no longer woke her to ask her hard questions. Her mind was made up, and her conflict was at an end.
She woke at the full day, when down on Walland Marsh all the world was awake, but here the city and the house still slept, and rose with her eyes and heart full of tragic purpose. She dressed quickly, then packed her box—all the gay, grand things she had brought to make her lover proud of her. Then she sat down at her dressing-table, and wrote—
you get this I shall have gone for good. I see
now that we were not meant for each other. I am very sorry if this
gives you pain. But it is all for the best.—Your sincere friend,