“I suppose he—yes, I think he did. I showed it to him; or he asked who it was.”
Janet broke out into a peal of harsh—strident laughter.
“It’s a wonder he risks your bringing me as near as the next floor,” she had said. “Lord! A woman with a face like mine, who argues! God help us!”
But once she had understood that point, Janet had never alluded to it again; had made no effort to catch a glimpse of the man who so filled Sally’s life. So much, in fact, had she endeavoured to avoid their contact that, on one occasion, when she and Sally had been climbing up to the second floor, and the door of his room was opened, through which his voice had sounded, calling to Sally, she had run hurriedly up the stairs out of sight, her heart thumping with excitement when he had shouted out—
“Who the devil’s that?”
The inclination to shout back—“What the devil’s that to you?” she had clipped on the tip of her tongue; but only for Sally’s sake.
On this evening, then, that the settlement was drawn up, Sally had slowly climbed the stairs to the floor above, and once in her little sitting-room, with the door closed behind her, she had seated herself upon the settee near the fireplace and gazed into the cheerless, unlighted fire with dry and tearless eyes.
To her, the shadow of the end fell on everything. Just a little more than three years and a bend in the road had shown it stretching across her path. True, it was only a shadow. He had said nothing whatever about leaving her; had not even suggested it in the slightest word he had uttered. She must pass through the shadow, then; but what lay upon the other side was beyond her knowledge, though not beyond her fear.
To drive the apprehensions from her mind, she rose suddenly, shrugging shoulders, as though her blood were cold, and went to the piano. Without thinking, she sat down, began to play; then her hands lifted from the keys as if they burnt her touch. She had as suddenly remembered. Traill was below. For a moment longer she sat there, just touching, feeling the notes with the tips of her fingers—listening to the sounds in her mind—then she rose, standing motionless, attentive to all the little noises in the room below.
She heard the clink of a glass. He was taking his whisky. The sound indicated that he would soon be going to bed. She glanced at the clock, ticking daintily on her mantelpiece. It was just after eleven. Thoughts, calculations began to wander to her mind. Downstairs, he had said good night, kissed her—gently, as he always did—and opened the door for her as she came upstairs. But then he did that every night. Every evening he kissed her, every evening he said good night; but then perhaps, some half-hour later, she would hear him mounting the stairs to her room, and her heart would hammer like steel upon an anvil until he had knocked at her door and she had whispered—“Come in.”