“I heard you had just been in to see Uncle George, Kate, and I tried to overtake you.”
Not much: nothing in fact. Playwriters tell us that the dramatic situation is the thing, and that the spoken word is as unimportant to the play as the foot-lights—except as a means of illuminating the situation.
“Yes—I have just left him, Harry. Uncle George looks very badly—don’t you think so? Is there anything very serious the matter? I sent Ben to Dr. Teackle’s, but he was not in his office.”
He had moved up a chair and sat devouring every vibration of her lips, every glance of her wondrous eyes—all the little movements of her beautiful body—her dress—the way the stray strands of hair had escaped to her shoulders. His Kate!—and yet he dare not touch her!
“No, he is not ill. He took a severe cold and only needs rest and a little care. I am glad you went and—” then the pent-up flood broke loose. “Are you glad to see me, Kate?”
“I am always glad to see you, Harry—and you look so well. It has been nearly three years, hasn’t it?” Her calmness was maddening; she spoke as if she was reciting a part in which she had no personal interest.
“I don’t know—I haven’t counted—not that way. I have lain awake too many nights and suffered too much to count by years. I count by—”
She raised her hand in protest: “Don’t Harry—please don’t. All the suffering has not been yours!” The impersonal tone was gone—there was a note of agony in her voice.
His manner softened: “Don’t think I blame you, Kate. I love you too much to blame you—you did right. The suffering has only done me good—I am a different man from the one you once knew. I see life with a wider vision. I know what it is to be hungry; I know, too, what it is to earn the bread that has kept me alive. I came home to look after Uncle George. When I go back I want to take him with me. I won’t count the years nor all the suffering I have gone through if I can pay him back what I owe him. He stood by me when everybody else deserted me.”
She winced a little at the thrust, as if he had touched some sore spot, sending a shiver of pain through her frame, but she did not defend herself.
“You mustn’t take him away, Harry—leave Uncle George to me,” not as if she demanded it—more as if she was stating a fact.
“Why not? He will be another man out in Brazil—and he can live there like a gentleman on what he will have left—so Pawson thinks.”
“Because I love him dearly—and when he is gone I have nobody left,” she answered in a hopeless tone.
Harry hesitated, then he asked: “And so what Uncle George told me about Mr. Willits is true?”
Kate looked at him furtively—as if afraid to read his thoughts and for reply bowed her head in assent.
“Didn’t he love you enough?” There was a certain reproach in his tone, as if no one could love this woman enough to satisfy her.