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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 171 pages of information about Vain Fortune.
their eyelids, and at the end of a long silence he dozed—­a pale, transparent sleep, through which the realities of life appeared almost as plainly as before.  Suddenly he awoke, and he shivered in the chill room.  The fire was sinking; dawn divided the window-curtains.  He looked at his wife.  She seemed to him very beautiful as she slept, her face turned a little on one side, and again he asked himself if he loved her.  Then, going to the window, he drew the curtains softly, so as not to awaken her; and as he stood watching a thin discoloured day breaking over the roofs, it again seemed to him that Emily’s suicide was the better part.  ‘Those who do not perform their task in life are never happy.’  The words drilled themselves into his brain with relentless insistency.  He felt a terrible emptiness within him which he could not fill.  He looked at his wife and quailed a little at the thought that had suddenly come upon him.  She was something like himself—­that was why he had married her.  We are attracted by what is like ourselves.  Emily’s passion might have stirred him.  Now he would have to settle down to live with Julia, and their similar natures would grow more and more like one another.  Then, turning on his thoughts, he dismissed them.  They were the morbid feverish fancies of an exceptional, of a terrible night.  He opened the window quietly so as not to awaken his wife.  And in the melancholy greyness of the dawn he looked down into the street and wondered what the end would be.

He did not think that he would live long.  Disappointed men—­those who have failed in their ambition—­do not live to make old bones.  There were men like him in every profession—­the arts are crowded with them.  He had met barristers and soldiers and clergy-men, just like himself.  One hears of their deaths—­failure of the heart’s action, paralysis of the brain, a hundred other medical causes—­but the real cause is, lack of appreciation.

He would hang on for another few years, no doubt; during that time he must try to make his wife happy.  His duty was now to be a good husband, at all events, there was that.

His wife lay asleep in the arm-chair, and fearing she might catch cold, he came into the room closing the window very gently behind him.

THE END

Printed by T. and A. Constable, printers to Her Majesty at the Edinburgh University Press.

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