“Good-bye,” said she, with her pretty little purse of the mouth. They had already had an interview concerning her wages that morning.
Carroll said good-bye with a stiff motion of his mouth. He realized that Charlotte had given Marie her dress. Somehow the sight of Marie in that dress almost made a child of the man.
Carroll, when he reached his house, went up to the front door, unlocked it, and entered. At once there smote upon his consciousness that strange shock of emptiness and loneliness which has the effect, for a sensitive soul entering a deserted house, of a menacing roar of sound. He went through the hall to the little smoking-room or den on the right, opposite the dining-room, and the first thing which he saw on the divan was Charlotte’s little chinchilla muff which she had forgotten. He regarded it with the concern of a woman, reflecting that she would miss it; and he must send it to her, and was wondering vaguely about a suitable box, when he became aware of a noise of insistent knocking mounting in a gradual crescendo from propitiatory timidity to confidence. The knocking was on the kitchen door, and Carroll went hurriedly through the house. When he reached the door it was open, and a tramp was just entering, with head cautiously thrust forward. When he saw Carroll, the unshaven, surly face manifestly became dismayed. He turned to go, with a mutter which savored of appeal, excuse, and defiance, but Carroll viciously accelerated his exit with a thrust between the shoulders.
“What the devil are you doing here?” demanded Carroll.
The man, rolling surly yet intimidated eyes over his shoulder, after a staggering recovery from a fall, muttered something in an unintelligible patois, the grovelling, slurring whine of his kind.
“Well, get out of this!” shouted Carroll.
The man went, shuffling along with a degree of speed, lifting his clumsily shod feet with a sort of painful alacrity as if they were unduly heavy. His back, in its greenish-brown coat, was bent. He was not a very young man, although vigorous. Carroll stood looking at the inglorious exit of this Ishmael, and he was conscious of a feeling of exhilaration. He felt an agreeable tingling in his fists, which were still clinched. The using of them upon a legitimate antagonist in whose debt he was not, and never had been, acted like a tonic. Then suddenly something pathetic in that miserable retreating back struck the other man, who also had reason to turn his back on and retreat from his kind; a strange understanding came over him. He seemed to know exactly how that other man, slinking away from his door, felt.
“Hullo, you!” he called out.
The man apparently did not hear, or did not think the shout meant for him. He kept on.
Carroll shouted again. “Hullo, you! Come back here!”