“You are talking impiously, Alice,” observed her husband. “And you are doing me cruel injustice, into the bargain.”
“I only wish I were!” she replied; “I only wish to God I were!”
“Well, then, accept my complete assurance that you are—that your whole conception of me, and of what you are pleased to describe as my change toward you, is an entire and utter mistake. Of course, the married state is no more exempt from the universal law of growth, development, alteration, than any other human institution. On its spiritual side, of course, viewed either as a sacrament, or as—”
“Don’t let us go into that,” interposed Alice, abruptly. “In fact, there is no good in talking any more at all. It is as if we didn’t speak the same language. You don’t understand what I say; it makes no impression upon your mind.”
“Quite to the contrary,” he assured her; “I have been deeply interested and concerned in all you have said. I think you are laboring under a great delusion, and I have tried my best to convince you of it; but I have never heard you speak more intelligibly or, I might say, effectively.”
A little gleam of softness stole over Alice’s face. “If you only gave me a little more credit for intelligence,” she said, “you would find that I am not such a blockhead as you think I am.”
“Come, come!” he said, with a smiling show of impatience. “You really mustn’t impute things to me wholesale, like that.”
She was glad to answer the smile in kind. “No; but truly,” she pleaded, “you don’t realize it, but you have grown into a way of treating me as if I had absolutely no mind at all.”
“You have a very admirable mind,” he responded, and took up his teaspoon again. She reached for his cup, and poured out hot coffee for him. An almost cheerful spirit had suddenly descended upon the breakfast table.
“And now let me say the thing I have been aching to say for months,” she began in less burdened voice.
He lifted his brows. “Haven’t things been discussed pretty fully already?” he asked.
The doubtful, harassed expression clouded upon her face at his words, and she paused. “No,” she said resolutely, after an instant’s reflection; “it is my duty to discuss this, too. It is a misunderstanding all round. You remember that I told you Mr. Gorringe had given me some plants, which he got from some garden or other?”
“If you really wish to go on with the subject—yes I have a recollection of that particular falsehood of his.”
“He did it with the kindest and friendliest motives in the world!” protested Alice. “He saw how down-in-the-mouth and moping I was here, among these strangers—and I really was getting quite peaked and run-down—and he said I stayed indoors too much and it would do me all sorts of good to work in the garden, and he would send me some plants. The next I knew, here they were, with a book about mixing soils and planting, and so on. When I saw him next, and thanked him, I suppose I showed some apprehension about his having laid out money on them, and he, just to ease my mind, invented the story about his getting them for nothing. When I found out the truth—I got it out of that boy, Harvey Semple—he admitted it quite frankly—said he was wrong to deceive me.”