‘You say you were never at that man’s rooms before to-day?’ he asked in a lower voice.
’What I have said you must take the trouble to recollect. I shall answer no question.’
Again the impulse assailed him to wring confession from her by terror. He took a step forward, the demon in his face. Monica in that moment leapt past him, and reached the door of the room before he could stop her.
‘Stay where you are!’ she cried, ’If your hands touch me again I shall call for help until someone comes up. I won’t endure your touch!’
‘Do you pretend you are innocent of any crime against me?’
’I am not what you called me. Explain everything as you like. I will explain nothing. I want only to be free from you.’
She opened the door, rapidly crossed the landing, and went upstairs. Feeling it was useless to follow, Widdowson allowed the door to remain wide, and waited. Five minutes passed and Monica came down again, dressed for leaving the house.
‘Where are you going?’ he asked, stepping out of the room to intercept her.
‘It is nothing to you. I am going away.’
They subdued their voices, which might else have been audible the servants below.
‘No, that you shall not!’
He stepped forward to block the head of the stairs, but again Monica was too quick for him. She fled down, and across the hall, and to the house-door. Only there, as she was arrested by the difficulty of drawing back the two latches, did Widdowson overtake her.
‘Make what scandal you like, you don’t leave this house.’
His tones were violent rather than resolute. What could he do? If Monica persisted, what means had he of confining her to the house— short of carrying her by main force to an upper room and there locking her in? He knew that his courage would not sustain him through such a task as this.
‘For scandal I care nothing,’ was her reply. ’One way or another I will leave the house.’
‘Where are you going?’
‘To my sister’s.’
His hand on the door, Widdowson stood as if determined in opposition. But her will was stronger than his. Only by homicide can a man maintain his dignity in a situation of this kind; Widdowson could not kill his wife, and every moment that he stood there made him more ridiculous, more contemptible.
He turned back into the hall and reached his hat. Whilst he was doing so Monica opened the door. Heavy rain was falling, but she paid no heed to it. In a moment Widdowson hastened after her, careless, he too, of the descending floods. Her way was towards the railway station, but the driver of a cab chancing to attract her notice, she accepted the man’s offer, and bade him drive to Lavender Hill.