At out eleven o'clock the following night an WANDA'S room on the
ground floor in Soho. In the light from one close-shaded
electric bulb the room is but dimly visible. A dying fire burns
on the left. A curtained window in the centre of the back wall.
A door on the right. The furniture is plush-covered and
commonplace, with a kind of shabby smartness. A couch, without
back or arms, stands aslant, between window and fire.
[On this WANDA is sitting, her knees drawn up under her, staring
at the embers. She has on only her nightgown and a wrapper over
it; her bare feet are thrust into slippers. Her hands are
crossed and pressed over her breast. She starts and looks up,
listening. Her eyes are candid and startled, her face alabaster
pale, and its pale brown hair, short and square-cut, curls
towards her bare neck. The startled dark eyes and the faint
rose of her lips are like colour-staining on a white mask.]
[Footsteps as of a policeman, very measured, pass on the
pavement outside, and die away. She gets up and steals to the
window, draws one curtain aside so that a chink of the night is
seen. She opens the curtain wider, till the shape of a bare,
witch-like tree becomes visible in the open space of the little
Square on the far side of the road. The footsteps are heard
once more coming nearer. WANDA closes the curtains and cranes
back. They pass and die again. She moves away and looking down
at the floor between door and couch, as though seeing something
there; shudders; covers her eyes; goes back to the couch and
down again just as before, to stare at the embers. Again she is
startled by noise of the outer door being opened. She springs
up, runs and turns the light by a switch close to the door. By
the glimmer of the fire she can just be seen standing by the
dark window-curtains, listening. There comes the sound of
subdued knocking on her door. She stands in breathless terror.
The knocking is repeated. The sound of a latchkey in the door
is heard. Her terror leaves her. The door opens; a man enters
in a dark, fur overcoat.]
WANDA [In a voice of breathless relief, with a rather foreign
accent] Oh! it's you, Larry! Why did you knock? I was so
frightened. Come in! [She crosses quickly, and flings her arms
round his neck][Recoiling--in a terror-stricken whisper] Oh! Who
KEITH [In a smothered voice] A friend of Larry's. Don't be
She has recoiled again to the window; and when he finds the
switch and turns the light up, she is seen standing there
holding her dark wrapper up to her throat, so that her face has
an uncanny look of being detached from the body.
[Gently] You needn't be afraid. I haven't come to do you harm--
quite the contrary. [Holding up the keys] Larry wouldn't have given
me these, would he, if he hadn't trusted me?
WANDA does not move, staring like a spirit startled out of the
[After looking round him] I'm sorry to have startled you.
I talked to him, and he said, "Thank you for this little
chat. It's worth more than money when you're down." Little grey man
like a shaggy animal. And a newspaper boy came up and said: "That's
right, guv'nors! 'Ere's where they found the body--very spot. They
'yn't got 'im yet."
[He laughs; and the terrified girl presses herself against him.]
He's in no danger, I tell you. He could never have
strangled---- Why, he hadn't the strength of a kitten. Now, Larry!
I'll take your berth to-morrow. Here's money [He brings out a pile
of notes and puts them on the couch] You can make a new life of it
out there together presently, in the sun.
LARRY [In a whisper] In the sun! "A cup of wine and thou."
[Suddenly] How can I, Keith? I must see how it goes with that poor
Bosh! Dismiss it from your mind; there's not nearly enough
I have suffered so--not seein' you. Don't leave me again--don't!
Stay here. Isn't it good to be together?--Oh! Poor Larry! How
tired you look! --Stay with me. I am so frightened all alone. So
frightened they will take you from me.
I will make up the fire. Love me, Larry! I want to forget.
The poorest little wretch on God's earth--locked up--for me!
A little wild animal, locked up. There he goes, up and down, up and
down--in his cage--don't you see him?--looking for a place to gnaw
his way through--little grey rat. [He gets up and roams about.]
No, no! I can't bear it! Don't frighten me more!
WANDA [Raising herself] Promise to stay with me--to stay here for
good, Larry. I will cook for you; I will make you so comfortable.
They will find him innocent. And then--Oh, Larry! in the sun-right
away--far from this horrible country. How lovely! [Trying to get
him to look at her] Larry!
LARRY [With a movement to free 'himself] To the edge of the
No, no! No, no! You don't want me to die, Larry, do you? I
shall if you leave me. Let us be happy! Love me!
LARRY [With a laugh] Ah! Let's be happy and shut out the sight of
him. Who cares? Millions suffer for no mortal reason. Let's be
strong, like Keith. No! I won't leave you, Wanda. Let's forget
everything except ourselves. [Suddenly] There he goes-up and down!
WANDA [Moaning] No, no! See! I will pray to the Virgin. She will
She falls on her knees and clasps her hands, praying. Her lips
move. LARRY stands motionless, with arms crossed, and on his
face are yearning and mockery, love and despair.