She looked at him scornfully, and answered: 'I don't know what you are talking about!'
'You soon will. A mere trifle, quite beneath your contempt-- four hundred pounds.'
'Do you mean that you are going to make him pay that towards this hateful house?'
'And you know he's got nothing?'
'Then you are meaner than I thought you.'
Soames turned from the mirror, and unconsciously taking a china cup from the mantelpiece, clasped his hands around it, as though praying. He saw her bosom rise and fall, her eyes darkening with anger, and taking no notice of the taunt, he asked quietly:
'Are you carrying on a flirtation with Bosinney?'
'No, I am not!'
Her eyes met his, and he looked away. He neither believed nor disbelieved her, but he knew that he had made a mistake in asking; he never had known, never would know, what she was thinking. The sight of her inscrutable face, the thought of all the hundreds of evenings he had seen her sitting there like that soft and passive, but so unreadable, unknown, enraged him beyond measure.
'I believe you are made of stone,' he said, clenching his fingers so hard that he broke the fragile cup. The pieces fell into the grate. And Irene smiled.
'You seem to forget,' she said, 'that cup is not!'
Soames gripped her arm. 'A good beating,' he said, 'is the only thing that would bring you to your senses,' but turning on his heel, he left the room.
SOAMES SITS ON THE STAIRS
SOAMES Went upstairs that night with the feeling that he had gone too far. He was prepared to offer excuses for his words.
He turned out the gas still burning in the passage outside