Last Updated January 12, 2023.
When Stephen gets home, he discovers Rachael sitting by the bed. She is caring for his wife, who is modestly concealed by a curtain. Stephen’s eyes fill with tears at the sight. The landlady had come for Rachael, and Rachael has done what she can, for Stephen’s wife was once her friend. She could not allow her to suffer and die alone.
Rachael’s pity extends to Stephen, and she says that he has suffered cruelly and calls herself his “poor friend, with all my heart and mind.” Then she tends the other woman’s wounds. Rachael will stay for a while so that Stephen can sleep. She will leave before the other woman wakes.
Stephen finds himself trembling and afraid. He tells Rachael to sit by the bed so that he can fix that image of goodness and mercy in his mind. Then he closes his eyes and drifts into sleep. He listens to the wind and dreams that he is standing on some kind of raised stage that falls out from beneath him as the burial service is read.
When Stephen wakes, Rachael is dozing. Stephen watches as a hand moves out from behind the curtain. The woman in the bed sits up and draws a bottle on the table toward her. She pours some of the liquid into a mug and raises it to her lips. Then Rachael wakes and seizes the cup. The woman strikes her, but Rachael prevents her from taking the poison. Rachael then empties the rest of the bottle into the basin.
Before Rachael leaves, Stephen calls her an angel. Rachael denies it. Stephen expresses how desperate he has become and confesses that he may have allowed his wife to drink the poison. Yet Rachael brings out something better in him, and he vows that he will always see her whenever he is angry and upset.