The Tempting of Tavernake
II.9. For Always
Once again it seemed to Beatrice that history was repeating itself. The dingy, oblong
dining-room, with its mosquito netting, stained tablecloth, and hard cane chairs,
expanded until she fancied herself in the drawing-room of Blenheim House. Between the
landladies there was little enough to choose. Mrs. Raithby Lawrence, notwithstanding her
caustic tongue and suspicious nature, had at least made some pretense at gentility. The
woman who faced her now--hard-featured, with narrow, suspicious eyes and a mass of
florid hair--was unmistakably and brutally vulgar.
"What's the good of your keeping on saying you hope to get an engagement next week?"
she demanded, with a sneer. "Who's likely to engage you? Why, you've lost your color
and your looks and your weight since you came to stay here. They don't want such as you
in the chorus. And for the rest, you're too high and mighty, that's my opinion of you. Take
what you can get, and how you can get it, and be thankful,--that's my motto. Day after
day you tramp about the streets with your head in the air, and won't take this and won't
take that, and meanwhile my bill gets bigger and bigger. Now where have you been to
this morning, I should like to know?"
Beatrice, who was faint and tired, shaking in every limb, tried to pass out of the room, but
her questioner barred the way.
"I have been up town," she answered, nervously.
"Hear of anything?"
Beatrice shook her head.
"Not yet. Please let me go upstairs and lie down. I am tired and I need to rest."
"And I need my money," Mrs. Selina P. Watkins declared, without quitting her position,
"and it's no good your going up to your room because the door's locked."
"What do you mean?" Beatrice faltered.
"I mean that I've done with you," the lodging-house keeper announced. "Your room's
locked up and the key's in my pocket, and the sooner you get out of this, the better I shall
"But my box--my clothes," Beatrice cried.
"I'll keep 'em a week for you," the woman answered. "Bring me the money by then and
you shall have them. If I don't hear anything of you, they'll go to the auction mart."