Chapter 5, Page 2
"Anna!" He started to follow her, and then checked himself. "Don't do that!"
"It's not like you...not generous..."
She stood before him straight and pale, but under her rigid face he saw the tumult of her doubt and misery.
"I don't want to be ungenerous; I don't want to pry into her secrets. But things can't be left like this. Wouldn't it be better for me to go to her? Surely she'll understand--she'll explain...It may be some mere trifle she's concealing: something that would horrify the Farlows, but that I shouldn't see any harm in..." She paused, her eyes searching his face. "A love affair, I suppose...that's it? You met her with some man at the theatre--and she was frightened and begged you to fib about it? Those poor young things that have to go about among us like machines--oh, if you knew how I pity them!"
"If you pity her, why not let her go?"
She stared. "Let her go--go for good, you mean? Is that the best you can say for her?"
"Let things take their course. After all, it's between herself and Owen."
"And you and me--and Effie, if Owen marries her, and I leave my child with them! Don't you see the impossibility of what you're asking? We're all bound together in this coil."
Darrow turned away with a groan. "Oh, let her go--let her go."
"Then there IS something--something really bad? She WAS with some one when you met her? Some one with whom she was----" She broke off, and he saw her struggling with new thoughts. "If it's THAT, of course...Oh, don't you see," she desperately appealed to him, "that I must find out, and that it's too late now for you not to speak? Don't be afraid that I'll betray you...I'll never, never let a soul suspect. But I must know the truth, and surely it's best for her that I should find it out from you."
Darrow waited a moment; then he said slowly: "What you imagine's mere madness. She was at the theatre with me."
"With you?" He saw a tremor pass through her, but she controlled it instantly and faced him straight and motionless as a wounded creature in the moment before it feels its wound. "Why should you both have made a mystery of that?"
"I've told you the idea was not mine." He cast about. "She may have been afraid that Owen----"
"But that was not a reason for her asking you to tell me that you hardly knew her--that you hadn't even seen her for years." She broke off and the blood rose to her face and forehead. "Even if SHE had other reasons, there could be only one reason for your obeying her----" Silence fell between them, a silence in which the room seemed to become suddenly resonant with voices. Darrow's gaze wandered to the window and he noticed that the gale of two days before had nearly stripped the tops of the lime- trees in the court. Anna had moved away and was resting her elbows against the mantel-piece, her head in her hands. As she stood there he took in with a new intensity of vision little details of her appearance that his eyes had often cherished: the branching blue veins in the backs of her hands, the warm shadow that her hair cast on her ear, and the colour of the hair itself, dull black with a tawny under-surface, like the wings of certain birds. He felt it to be useless to speak.
After a while she lifted her head and said: "I shall not see her again before she goes."
He made no answer, and turning to him she added: "That is why she's going, I suppose? Because she loves you and won't give you up?"
Darrow waited. The paltriness of conventional denial was so apparent to him that even if it could have delayed discovery he could no longer have resorted to it. Under all his other fears was the dread of dishonouring the hour.
"She HAS given me up," he said at last.