It was four o’clock in the afternoon, and the cars for Olney left at seven. She was going that way as far as Milford, where she could take another route to the East. She would thus throw Richard off the track if he tried to follow her, and also avoid immediate remark in the hotel. They would think it quite natural that in her husband’s absence she should go for a few days to Olney, she reasoned; and they did think so in the office when at six she asked that her trunk be taken to the station. Her rooms were all in order. She had made them so herself, sweeping and dusting, and even leaving Richard’s dressing-gown and slippers by the chair where he usually sat the evenings he was at home. The vacancy left by the piano would strike him at once, she knew, and so she moved a tall bookcase up there, and put a sofa where the bookcase had been, and a large chair where the sofa had been, and pushed the center table into the large chair’s place; and then her work was done—the last she would ever do in that room, or for Richard either. The last of everything is sad, and Ethie felt a thrill of pain as she whispered to herself, “It is the last, last time,” and then thought of the outer world which lay all unknown before her. She would not allow herself to think, lest her courage should give way, and tried, by dwelling continually upon Richard’s cruel words, to steel her heart against the good impulses which were beginning to suggest that what she was doing might not, after all, be the wisest course. What would the world say?—and dear Aunt Barbara, too? How it would wring her heart when she heard the end to which her darling had come! And Andy—simple, conscientious, praying Andy—Ethie’s heart came up in her throat when she thought of him and his grief at her desertion.
“I will write to Andy,” she said. “I will tell him how thoughts of him almost deterred me from my purpose,” and opening her little writing desk, which Richard gave her at Christmas, she took up her pen and held it poised a moment, while something said: “Write to Richard, too. Surely you can do so much for him. You can tell him the truth at last, and let him know how he misjudged you.”
And so the name which Ethie first wrote down upon the paper was not “Dear Brother Andy,” but simply that of “Richard.”
“Stafford House, Feb.—,
“Five o’clock in the afternoon.
“Richard: I am going away from you forever, and When you recall the words you spoke to me last night, and the deep humiliation you put upon me, you will readily understand that I go because we cannot live together any longer as man and wife. You said things to me, Richard, which women find hard to forgive, and which they never can forget. I did not deserve that you should treat me so, for, bad as I may have been in other respects, I am innocent of the worst thing you alleged against me, and which