Bliss and Other Stories
I scalded myself with mine in my hurry to take the cup back to the table and to say as I stood there : " You must forgive me if I am impertinent ... if I am too frank. But Dick hasn't tried to disguise it—has he ? There is something the matter. Can I help ? "
(Soft music. Mouse gets up, walks the stage for a moment or so before she returns to her chair and pours him out, oh, such a brimming, such a burning cup that the tears come into the friend's eyes while he sips—while he drains it to the bitter dregs. . . .)
I had time to do all this before she replied. First she looked in the teapot, filled it with hot water, and stirred it with a spoon.
" Yes, there is something the matter. No, I'm afraid you can't help, thank you." Again I got that glimmer of a smile. " I'm awfully sorry. It must be horrid for you."
Horrid, indeed ! Ah, why couldn't I tell her that it was months and months since I had been so entertained ?
" But you are suffering," I ventured softly, as though that was what I could not bear to see.page 107
She didn't deny it. She nodded and bit her under-lip and I thought I saw her chin tremble.
" And there is really nothing I can do ? " More softly still.
She shook her head, pushed back the table and jumped up.
"Oh, it will be all right soon," she breathed, walking over to the dressing-table and standing with her back towards me. "It will be all right. It can't go on like this."
" But of course it can't." I agreed, wondering whether it would look heartless if I lit a cigarette ; I had a sudden longing to smoke.
In some way she saw my hand move to my breast pocket, half draw out my cigarette case and put it back again, for the next thing she said was : " Matches . . . in . . . candlestick. I noticed them."
And I heard from her voice that she was crying.