Bianca went swiftly up to the trunk.
“You shall!” she said. “Take that thing and go.”
The little model did not move.
“So you won’t?”
The girl trembled violently all over. She moistened her lips, tried to speak, failed, again moistened them, and this time murmured; “I’ll only—I’ll only—if he tells me!”
“So you still imagine he will tell you!”
The little model merely repeated: “I won’t—won’t do anything without he tells me!”
Bianca laughed. “Why, it’s like a dog!” she said.
But the girl had turned abruptly to the window. Her lips were parted. She was shrinking, fluttering, trembling at what she saw. She was indeed like a spaniel dog who sees her master coming. Bianca had no need of being told that Hilary was outside. She went into the passage and opened the front door.
He was coming up the steps, his face worn like that of a man in fever, and at the sight of his wife he stood quite still, looking into her face.
Without the quiver of an eyelid, without the faintest trace of emotion, or the slightest sign that she knew him to be there, Bianca passed and slowly walked away.
FINISH OF THE COMEDY
Those who may have seen Hilary driving towards the little model’s lodgings saw one who, by a fixed red spot on either cheek, and the over-compression of his quivering lips, betrayed the presence of that animality which underlies even the most cultivated men.
After eighteen hours of the purgatory of indecision, he had not so much decided to pay that promised visit on which hung the future of two lives, as allowed himself to be borne towards the girl.
There was no one in the passage to see him after he had passed Bianca in the doorway, but it was with a face darkened by the peculiar stabbing look of wounded egoism that he entered the little model’s room.
The sight of it coming so closely on the struggle she had just been through was too much for the girl’s self-control.
Instead of going up to him, she sat down on the corded trunk and began to sob. It was the sobbing of a child whose school-treat has been cancelled, of a girl whose ball-dress has not come home in time. It only irritated Hilary, whose nerves had already borne all they could bear. He stood literally trembling, as though each one of these common little sobs were a blow falling on the drum-skin of his spirit; and through every fibre he took in the features of the dusty, scent-besprinkled room—the brown tin trunk, the dismantled bed, the rust-red doors.
And he realised that she had burned her boats to make it impossible for a man of sensibility to disappoint her!
The little model raised her face and looked at him. What she saw must have been less reassuring even than the first sight had been, for it stopped her sobbing. She rose and turned to the window, evidently trying with handkerchief and powder-puff to repair the ravages caused by her tears; and when she had finished she still stood there with her back to him. Her deep breathing made her young form quiver from her waist up to the little peacock’s feather in her hat; and with each supple movement it seemed offering itself to Hilary.