“I believe you are made of stone,” he said, clenching his fingers so hard that he broke the fragile cup. The pieces fell into the grate. And Irene smiled.
“You seem to forget,” she said, “that cup is not!”
Soames gripped her arm. “A good beating,” he said, “is the only thing that would bring you to your senses,” but turning on his heel, he left the room.
SOAMES SITS ON THE STAIRS
Soames went upstairs that night that he had gone too far. He was prepared to offer excuses for his words.
He turned out the gas still burning in the passage outside their room. Pausing, with his hand on the knob of the door, he tried to shape his apology, for he had no intention of letting her see that he was nervous.
But the door did not open, nor when he pulled it and turned the handle firmly. She must have locked it for some reason, and forgotten.
Entering his dressing-room where the gas was also light and burning low, he went quickly to the other door. That too was locked. Then he noticed that the camp bed which he occasionally used was prepared, and his sleeping-suit laid out upon it. He put his hand up to his forehead, and brought it away wet. It dawned on him that he was barred out.
He went back to the door, and rattling the handle stealthily, called: “Unlock the door, do you hear? Unlock the door!”
There was a faint rustling, but no answer.
“Do you hear? Let me in at once—I insist on being let in!”
He could catch the sound of her breathing close to the door, like the breathing of a creature threatened by danger.
There was something terrifying in this inexorable silence, in the impossibility of getting at her. He went back to the other door, and putting his whole weight against it, tried to burst it open. The door was a new one—he had had them renewed himself, in readiness for their coming in after the honeymoon. In a rage he lifted his foot to kick in the panel; the thought of the servants restrained him, and he felt suddenly that he was beaten.
Flinging himself down in the dressing-room, he took up a book.
But instead of the print he seemed to see his wife—with her yellow hair flowing over her bare shoulders, and her great dark eyes—standing like an animal at bay. And the whole meaning of her act of revolt came to him. She meant it to be for good.
He could not sit still, and went to the door again. He could still hear her, and he called: “Irene! Irene!”
He did not mean to make his voice pathetic.
In ominous answer, the faint sounds ceased. He stood with clenched hands, thinking.
Presently he stole round on tiptoe, and running suddenly at the other door, made a supreme effort to break it open. It creaked, but did not yield. He sat down on the stairs and buried his face in his hands.