Left alone in her untidy room after Graham's abrupt departure, Anna Klein was
dazed. She stood where he left her, staring ahead. What had happened meant
only one thing to her, that Graham no longer cared about her, and, if that was
true, she did not care to live.
It never occurred to her that he had done rather a fine thing, or that he had
protected her against herself. She felt no particular shame, save the shame of
rejection. In her small world of the hill, if a man gave a girl valuable gifts or
money there was generally a quid pro quo. If the girl was unwilling, she did not
accept such gifts. If the man wanted nothing, he did not make them. And men
who made love to girls either wanted to marry them or desired some other
relationship with them.
She listened to his retreating footsteps, and then began, automatically to
unbutton her thin white blouse. But with the sound of the engine of his car below
she ran to the window. She leaned out, elbows on the sill, and watched him go,
without a look up at her window.
So that was the end of that!
Then, all at once, she was fiercely angry. He had got her into this scrape, and
now he had left her. He had pretended to love her, and all the time he had meant
to do just this, to let her offer herself so he might reject her. He had been playing
with her. She had lost her home because of him, had been beaten almost
insensible, had been ill for weeks, and now he had driven away, without even
She jerked her blouse off, still standing by the window, and when the sleeve
caught on her watch, she jerked that off, too. She stood for a moment with it in
her hand, her face twisted with shame and anger. Then recklessly and furiously
she flung it through the open window.
In the stillness of the street far below she heard it strike and rebound.
"That for him!" she muttered.
Almost immediately she wanted it again. He had given it to her. It was all she had
left now, and in a curious way it had, through long wearing, come to mean
Graham to her. She leaned out of the window. She thought she saw it gleaming
in the gutter, and already, attracted by the crash, a man was crossing the street
to where it lay.
"You let that alone," she called down desperately. The figure was already
stooping over it. Entirely reckless now, she ran, bare-armed and bare-bosomed,
down the stairs and out into the street. She had thought to see its finder
escaping, but he was still standing where he had picked it up.
"It's mine," she began. "I dropped it out of the window. I - "
"You threw it out of the window. I saw you."
It was Rudolph.
"You - " He snarled, and stood with menacing eyes fixed on her bare neck.