“Oh, and am I being very foolish again?” Anne asked. “For I have been remembering that when—when Jack was not quite truthful about some things, you know,—the truth he hid was always one which would have hurt me. And I like to believe that was, at least in part, the reason he hid it, Rudolph. So he purchased my happiness—well, at ugly prices perhaps. But he purchased it, none the less; and I had it through all those years. So why shouldn’t I—after all—be very grateful to him? And, besides”—her voice broke—“besides, he was Jack, you know. He belonged to me. What does it matter what he did? He belonged to me, and I loved him.”
And to the colonel’s discomfort Anne began to cry.
“There, there!” he said, “so the real truth is out at last. And tears don’t help very much. It does seem a bit unfair, my dear, I know. But that is simply because you and I are living in a universe which has never actually committed itself, under any penalizing bond, to be entirely candid as to the laws by which it is conducted.”
* * * * *
But it may be that Rudolph Musgrave voiced quite obsolete views. For he said this at a very remote period—when the Beef Trust was being “investigated” in Washington; when an excited Iberian constabulary was still hunting the anarchists who had attempted to assassinate the young King and Queen of Spain upon their wedding-day; when the rebuilding of an earthquake-shattered San Francisco was just beginning to be talked of as a possibility; and when editorials were mostly devoted to discussion of what Mr. Bryan would have to say about bi-metallism when he returned from his foreign tour.
And, besides, it was Rudolph Musgrave’s besetting infirmity always to shrink—under shelter of whatever grandiloquent excuse—from making changes. One may permissibly estimate this foible to have weighed with him a little, even now, just as in all things it had always weighed in Lichfield with all his generation. An old custom is not lightly broken.
“So let us laugh, lest vain rememberings
Breed, as of old, some rude bucolic cry
Of awkward anguishes, of dreams that die
Without decorum, of Love lacking wings
Yet striving you-ward in his flounderings
Eternally,—as now, even when I lie
As I lie now, who know that you and I
Exist and heed not lesser happenings.