Clare. Well, I think we’ve talked enough.
[She again moves towards the curtained door.]
George. Look here, Clare; you don’t mean you’re expecting me to put up with the position of a man who’s neither married nor unmarried? That’s simple purgatory. You ought to know.
Clare. Yes. I haven’t yet, have I?
George. Don’t go like that! Do you suppose we’re the only couple who’ve found things aren’t what they thought, and have to put up with each other and make the best of it.
Clare. Not by thousands.
George. Well, why do you imagine they do it?
Clare. I don’t know.
George. From a common sense of decency.
George. By Jove! You can be the most maddening thing in all the world! [Taking up a pack of cards, he lets them fall with a long slithering flutter] After behaving as you have this evening, you might try to make some amends, I should think.
Clare moves her
head from side to side, as if in sight of
something she could not avoid. He puts his hand on her arm.
Clare. No, no—no!
George. [Dropping his hand] Can’t you make it up?
Clare. I don’t feel very Christian.
She opens the door, passes through, and closes it behind her. George steps quickly towards it, stops, and turns back into the room. He goes to the window and stands looking out; shuts it with a bang, and again contemplates the door. Moving forward, he rests his hand on the deserted card table, clutching its edge, and muttering. Then he crosses to the door into the hall and switches off the light. He opens the door to go out, then stands again irresolute in the darkness and heaves a heavy sigh. Suddenly he mutters: “No!” Crosses resolutely back to the curtained door, and opens it. In the gleam of light Clare is standing, unhooking a necklet.
He goes in, shutting the door behind him with a thud.
The scene is a large, whitewashed, disordered room, whose outer door opens on to a corridor and stairway. Doors on either side lead to other rooms. On the walls are unframed reproductions of fine pictures, secured with tintacks. An old wine-coloured armchair of low and comfortable appearance, near the centre of the room, is surrounded by a litter of manuscripts, books, ink, pens and newspapers, as though some one had already been up to his neck in labour, though by a grandfather’s clock it is only eleven. On a smallish table close by, are sheets of paper, cigarette ends, and two claret bottles. There are many books on shelves, and on the floor, an overflowing pile, whereon rests a soft hat,