They all started to talk at once. The guest said he was going to marry Jenny and would protect her. Mr Coombes told him he could protect her anywhere, but not in his house. Mrs Coombes told him he should be ashamed for insulting her guests. She told him he really was an annoying little grub.
It all ended with Mr Coombes telling the guests to leave his house. But they wouldn’t go. In the end, Mr Coombes left. With his face burning red and tears in his eyes with anger, he went into the hall, put on his overcoat, and brushed his silk hat. Jenny began to play the piano again, over and over again: the same little, silly tune. Mr Coombes slammed the door shut and walked away, angry and frustrated.
He walked along the muddy path among the fir trees. It was October; the ground was soft with pine needles and lots of fungi were growing. Mr Coombes thought about his marriage and its history. He now saw that his wife had married him because she had had an uncertain, hard life and wanted a better one with him.
She was supposed to help him with his business, but she was too stupid. And they argued about money all the time. ‘You spend too much,’ he would say. She didn’t like to hear that. ‘Why can’t you be nice to me?’ she would ask. She also had a family that annoyed him. They caused trouble for his business and helped his wife to spend his money. It was not the first time he had run from his house in anger and frustration. But never before had he felt like this, so sick of life. So he walked along the path, his head down, breathing in the thick-smelling air. The evil-smelling fungi grew to his left and to his right.
A wife that did not really love him and a business that was in trouble. Perhaps that was his destiny, perhaps it was meant to be this way.