Clare. I have to find a new room anyway. I’m changing—to be safe. [She takes a luggage ticket from her glove] I took my things to Charing Cross—only a bag and one trunk. [Then, with that queer expression on her face which prefaces her desperations] You don’t want me now, I suppose.
Clare. [Hardly above a whisper] Because—if
you still wanted me—
[Etext editors note:
In the 1924 revision, 11 years after this
1913 edition: “I do—now” is changed to “I could—now”—
a significant change in meaning. D.W.]
Malise. [Staring hard into her face that is
quivering and smiling]
You mean it? You do? You care——?
Clare. I’ve thought of you—so much! But only—if you’re sure.
He clasps her and kisses
her closed eyes; and so they stand for
a moment, till the sound of a latchkey in the door sends them
Malise. It’s the housekeeper. Give me that ticket; I’ll send for your things.
Obediently she gives
him the ticket, smiles, and goes quietly
into the inner room. Mrs. Miler has entered; her face, more
Chinese than ever, shows no sign of having seen.
Malise. That lady will stay here, Mrs. Miler. Kindly go with this ticket to the cloak-room at Charing Cross station, and bring back her luggage in a cab. Have you money?
Mrs. Miler. ’Arf a crown. [She takes the ticket—then impassively] In case you don’t know—there’s two o’ them men about the stairs now.
The moment she is gone Malise makes a gesture of maniacal fury. He steals on tiptoe to the outer door, and listens. Then, placing his hand on the knob, he turns it without noise, and wrenches back the door. Transfigured in the last sunlight streaming down the corridor are two men, close together, listening and consulting secretly. They start back.
Malise. [With strange, almost noiseless ferocity] You’ve run her to earth; your job’s done. Kennel up, hounds! [And in their faces he slams the door]
Scene II—The same, early on a winter afternoon, three months later. The room has now a certain daintiness. There are curtains over the doors, a couch, under the window, all the books are arranged on shelves. In small vases, over the fireplace, are a few violets and chrysanthemums. Malise sits huddled in his armchair drawn close to the fore, paper on knee, pen in hand. He looks rather grey and drawn, and round his chair is the usual litter. At the table, now nearer to the window, Clare sits working a typewriter. She finishes a line, puts sheets of paper together, makes a note on a card—adds some figures, and marks the total.