Of course it was gracefully worded in the plural, but your pallid wife could not claim her share of it, and you should have realized the fact. And the reason she could not was that she had sacrificed her health in your service, in giving your children to you, and in losing her lover.
She adores her splendid babies, but she is still a woman and a wife,—though you seem to ignore that she is anything but a mother.
Right about face, Mr. Gordon, and become the lover you were, and jealousy will be driven from your threshold.
It is your own lack of thoughtfulness, your own tactless and tasteless methods with your wife, which have caused the change in her manner. She is not jealous, she is only lonely, heart-hungry, disillusioned.
You are less noble, less considerate, less tender, less sympathetic than she believed. For the man to whom these adjectives can be applied will guard, love, and cherish the wife of his youth, and the mother of his children, before all other considerations; and he will understand how sensitive a fading wife may be, and not confound that sensitiveness with ignoble jealousy.
It is you, Charles Gordon, who must cure your wife of nerves, hysteria, and incipient jealousy, not I.
To Mrs. Clarence St. Claire
Concerning Her Husband
I am sorry that your matrimonial barque meets so many rough winds while hardly out of Honeymoon Bay.
Clarence and you seemed so deeply in love when I last saw you, six months after your wedding, that I had hoped all might go well with you.
I knew the disposition of Clarence to be tainted with jealousy, but hoped you would be able to eradicate it from his nature.
You know his poor mother suffered agonies from the infidelities of his father before Clarence was born. She had married a handsome foreigner with whom she was desperately enamoured, while he cared only for the fortune she brought him.
While still in the full light of the honeymoon he began to indulge in flirtations and amours, and poor Clarence, during the important prenatal period of life, received the mark of suspicion and the tendency to hypersensitiveness which then dominated the mother.
By the time Elise was born she had passed through the whole process, and was passive and indifferent.
I cannot help a sensation of amusement, even in face of the condition you describe (which is little short of tragic), as I recall the letter Clarence wrote begging me to try and prevent, by fair means or foul, his sister’s marriage to old Mr. Volney.
That was two years before you and Clarence were married.
Elise, we all know, wedded for the money and position Mr. Volney gave, in return for her young beauty.
Clarence and you were ideal lovers, seeing nothing in the world outside of your own selves.