“I suppose so.”
“And why?” she cried. “I should like to know why.”
He did not answer. The way she rushed in made him go vague.
“Justify yourself. Say why you’ve been so vile to me. Say what you had against me,” she demanded.
“What I HAD against her,” he mused to himself: and he wondered that she used the past tense. He made no answer.
“Accuse me,” she insisted. “Say what I’ve done to make you treat me like this. Say it. You must THINK it hard enough.”
“Nay,” he said. “I don’t think it.”
This speech, by which he merely meant that he did not trouble to formulate any injuries he had against her, puzzled her.
“Don’t come pretending you love me, NOW. It’s too late,” she said with contempt. Yet perhaps also hope.
“You might wait till I start pretending,” he said.
This enraged her.
“You vile creature!” she exclaimed. “Go! What have you come for?”
“To look at YOU,” he said sarcastically.
After a few minutes she began to cry, sobbing violently into her apron. And again his bowels stirred and boiled.
“What have I done! What have I done! I don’t know what I’ve done that he should be like this to me,” she sobbed, into her apron. It was childish, and perhaps true. At least it was true from the childish part of her nature. He sat gloomy and uneasy.
She took the apron from her tear-stained face, and looked at him. It was true, in her moments of roused exposure she was a beautiful woman— a beautiful woman. At this moment, with her flushed, tear-stained, wilful distress, she was beautiful.
“Tell me,” she challenged. “Tell me! Tell me what I’ve done. Tell me what you have against me. Tell me.”
Watching like a lynx, she saw the puzzled, hurt look in his face. Telling isn’t so easy—especially when the trouble goes too deep for conscious comprehension. He couldn’t tell what he had against her. And he had not the slightest intention of doing what she would have liked him to do, starting to pile up detailed grievances. He knew the detailed grievances were nothing in themselves.
“You CAN’T,” she cried vindictively. “You CAN’T. You CAN’T find anything real to bring against me, though you’d like to. You’d like to be able to accuse me of something, but you CAN’T, because you know there isn’t anything.”
She watched him, watched. And he sat in the chair near the door, without moving.
“You’re unnatural, that’s what you are,” she cried. “You’re unnatural. You’re not a man. You haven’t got a man’s feelings. You’re nasty, and cold, and unnatural. And you’re a coward. You’re a coward. You run away from me, without telling me what you’ve got against me.”
“When you’ve had enough, you go away and you don’t care what you do,” he said, epigrammatic.