The Tempting of Tavernake
I.4. Breakfast With Beatrice
The girl, awakened, perhaps, by the passing of some heavy cart along the street below, or
by the touch of the sunbeam which lay across her pillow, first opened her eyes and then,
after a preliminary stare around, sat up in bed. The events of the previous night slowly
shaped themselves in her mind. She remembered everything up to the commencement of
that drive in the taxicab. Sometime after that she must have fainted. And now -- what had
become of her? Where was she?
She looked around her in ever-increasing surprise. Certainly it was the strangest room she
had ever been in. The floor was dusty and innocent of any carpet; the window was bare
and uncurtained. The walls were unpapered but covered here and there with strange-
looking plans, one of them taking up nearly the whole side of the room--a very rough
piece of work with little dabs of blue paint here and there, and shadings and diagrams
which were absolutely unintelligible. She herself was lying upon a battered iron bedstead,
and she was wearing a very coarse nightdress. Her own clothes were folded up and lay
upon a piece of brown paper on the floor by the side of the bed. To all appearance, the
room was entirely unfurnished, except that in the middle of it was a hideous papier mache
After her first bewildered inspection of her surroundings, it was upon this screen that her
attention was naturally directed. Obviously it must be there to conceal something. Very
carefully she leaned out of bed until she was able to see around the corner of it. Then her
heart gave a little jump and she was only just able to stifle an exclamation of fear. Some
one was sitting there--a man--sitting on a battered cane chair, bending over a roll of
papers which were stretched upon a rude deal table. She felt her cheeks grow hot. It must
be Tavernake! Where had he brought her? What did his presence in the room mean?
The bed creaked heavily as she regained her former position. A voice came to her from
behind the screen. She knew it at once. It was Tavernake's.
"Are you awake?" he asked.
"Yes," she answered,--"yes, I am awake. Is that Mr. Tavernake? Where am I, please?"
"First of all, are you better?" he inquired.
"I am better," she assured him, sitting up in bed and pulling the clothes to her chin. "I am
quite well now. Tell me at once where I am and what you are doing over there."
"There is nothing to be terrified about," Tavernake answered. "To all effects and
purposes, I am in another room. When I move to the door, as I shall do directly, I shall
drag the screen with me. I can promise you--"
"Please explain everything," she begged, "quickly. I am most -- uncomfortable."