‘Why don’t you answer me?’
‘I can’t answer you,’ he said abruptly. Then remembering, he added, ‘Forgive me; I can think of nothing now.’ He hid his face in his hands, and sobbed twice—two heavy, choking sobs, pregnant with the weight of anguish lying on his heart.
Seeing how much he suffered, she laid her hand on his shoulder. ’I am very sorry; I wish I could help you. I know how it tears the heart when one cannot get out what one has in one’s brain.’
Her artistic appreciation of his suffering only jarred him the more. What he longed for was some kind, simple-hearted woman who would say, ’Never mind, dear; the play was perfectly right, only they did not understand it; I love you better than ever.’ But Rose could not give him the sympathy he wanted; and to be alone was almost a relief. He dared not go to bed; he sat looking into space. The roar of London hushed till it was no more than a faint murmur, the hissing of the gas grew louder, and still Hubert sat thinking, the same thoughts battling in his brain. He looked into the future, but could see nothing but suicide. His uncle? He had applied to him before for help; there was no hope there. Then he tramped up and down, maddened by the infernal hissing of the gas; and then threw himself into his arm-chair. And so a terrible night wore away; and it was not until long after the early carts had begun to rattle in the streets that exhaustion brought an end to his sufferings, and he rolled into bed.
’What will ye ‘ave to eat? Eggs and bacon?’
’Well, then, ‘ave a chop?’
’Ye must ‘ave something.’
‘A cup of tea, a slice of toast. I’m not hungry.’
’Well, ye are worse than a young lady for a happetite. Miss Massey ’as sent you down these ‘ere papers.’
The servant-girl laid the papers on the bed, and Hubert lay back on his pillow, so that he might collect his thoughts. Stretching forth his hands, he selected the inevitable paper.
’For those who do not believe that our English home life is composed mainly, if not entirely, of lying, drunkenness, and conjugal infidelity, and its sequel divorce, yester evening at the Queen’s Theatre must have been a sad and dismal experience. That men and women who have vowed to love each other do sometimes prove false to their troth no reasonable man will deny. With the divorce court before our eyes, even the most enthusiastic believer in the natural goodness and ultimate perfectibility of human nature must admit that men and women are frail. But drunkenness and infidelity are happily not characteristic of our English homes. Then why, we ask, should a dramatist select such a theme, and by every artifice of dialogue force into prominence all that is mean and painful in an unfortunate woman’s life? Always the same relentless method; the cold, passionless