“I’m not,” she sobbed. “It’s because I haven’t any illusions that—that—Oh, what’s the use of talking, Jack? I’m not complaining. I don’t even know what gave me this black mood, just now. I suppose that queer miracle of my voice coming back upset me. I feel—well, as if I were a different person, somehow; as if I had forfeited any right to have it. Oh, it’s silly, you’ll say. But it’s there. I can’t help my feeling—or my lack of it.”
Fyfe’s face whitened a little. His hands dropped from her shoulders.
“Now you’re talking to the point,” he said quietly. “Especially that last. We’ve been married some little time now, and if anything, we’re farther apart in the essentials of mating than we were at the beginning. You’ve committed yourself to an undertaking, yet more and more you encourage yourself to wish for the moon. If you don’t stop dreaming and try real living, don’t you see a lot of trouble ahead for yourself? It’s simple. You’re slowly hardening yourself against me, beginning to resent my being a factor in your life. It’s only a matter of time, if you keep on, until your emotions center about some other man.”
“Why do you talk like that?” she said bitterly. “Do you think I’ve got neither pride nor self-respect?”
“Yes. Both a-plenty,” he answered. “But you’re a woman, with a rather complex nature even for your sex. If your heart and your head ever clash over anything like that, you’ll be in perfect hell until one or the other gets the upper hand. You’re a thoroughbred, and high-strung as thoroughbreds are. It takes something besides three meals a day and plenty of good clothes to complete your existence. If I can’t make it complete, some other man will make you think he can. Why don’t you try? Haven’t I got any possibilities as a lover? Can’t you throw a little halo of romance about me, for your own sake—if not for mine?”
He drew her up close to him, stroking tenderly the glossy brown hair that flowed about her shoulders.
“Try it, Stella,” he whispered passionately. “Try wanting to like me, for a change. I can’t make love by myself. Shake off that infernal apathy that’s taking possession of you where I’m concerned. If you can’t love me, for God’s sake fight with me. Do something!”
Looking back at that evening as the summer wore on, Stella perceived that it was the starting point of many things, no one of them definitely outstanding by itself but bulking large as a whole. Fyfe made his appeal, and it left her unmoved save in certain superficial aspects. She was sorry, but she was mostly sorry for herself. And she denied his premonition of disaster. If, she said to herself, they got no raptures out of life, at least they got along without friction. In her mind their marriage, no matter that it lacked what she no less than Fyfe deemed an essential to happiness, was a fixed state, final, irrevocable, not to be altered by any emotional vagaries.