"I've come," he began at last in a dogged voice, "to let you know. I never wanted to come into this house. I never wanted to see no one."
Blanca could see his lips and eyelids quivering in a way strangely out of keeping with his general stolidity.
"My wife has told you tales of me, I suppose. She's told you I knock her about, I daresay. I don't care what she tells you or any o' the people that she works for. But this I'll say: I never touched her but she touched me first. Look here! that's marks of hers!" and, drawing up his sleeve he showed a scratch on his sinewy tattooed forearm. "I've not come here about her; that's no business of anyone's."
Bianca turned towards her pictures. "Well?" she said, "but what have you come about, please? You see I'm busy."
Hughs' face changed. Its stolidity vanished, the eyes became as quick, passionate, and leaping as a dark torrent. He was more violently alive than she had ever seen a man. Had it been a woman she would have felt--as Cecilia had felt with Mrs. Hughs--the indecency, the impudence of this exhibition; but from that male violence the feminine in her derived a certain satisfaction. So in Spring, when all seems lowering and grey, the hedges and trees suddenly flare out against the purple clouds, their twigs all in flame. The next moment that white glare is gone, the clouds are no longer purple, fiery light no longer quivers and leaps along the hedgerows. The passion in Hughs' face was gone as soon. Bianca felt a sense of disappointment, as though she could have wished her life held a little more of that. He stole a glance at her out of his dark eyes, which, when narrowed, had a velvety look, like the body of a wild bee, then jerked his thumb at the picture of the little model.
"It's about her I come to speak."
"I have not the slightest wish to hear."
Hughs looked round, as though to find something that would help him to proceed; his eyes lighted on Hilary's portrait.