"Oh, the Lord--off she goes!" thought Viola, turning her back on the woman and making a grimace at the stove.
"It's settle--or it's go!" The landlady raised her voice; she began to bawl. "I'm a landlady, I am, and a respectable woman, I'll have you know. I'll have no lice in my house, sneaking their way into the furniture and eating up everything. It's cash--or out you go before twelve o'clock to- morrow."
Viola felt rather than saw the woman's gesture. She shot out her arm in a stupid helpless way, as though a dirty pigeon had suddenly flown at her face. "Filthy old beast! Ugh! And the smell of her--like stale cheese and damp washing."
"Very well!" she answered shortly; "it's cash down or I leave to-morrow. All right: don't shout."
It was extraordinary--always before this woman came near her she trembled in her shoes--even the sound of those flat feet stumping up the stairs made her feel sick, but once they were face to face she felt immensely calm and indifferent, and could not understand why she even worried about money, nor why she sneaked out of the house on tiptoe, not even daring to shut the door after her in case the landlady should hear and shout something terrible, nor why she spent nights pacing up and down her room--drawing up sharply before the mirror and saying to a tragic reflection: "Money, money, money!" When she was alone her poverty was like a huge dream-mountain on which her feet were fast rooted--aching with the ache of the size of the thing--but if it came to definite action, with no time for imaginings, her dream-mountain dwindled into a beastly "hold-your-nose" affair, to be passed as quickly as possible, with anger and a strong sense of superiority.
The landlady bounced out of the room, banging the door, so that it shook and rattled as though it had listened to the conversation and fully sympathised with the old hag.
Squatting on her heels, Viola opened the letter. It was from Casimir:
"I shall be with you at three o'clock this afternoon--and must be off again this evening. All news when we meet. I hope you are happier than I.-- CASIMIR."