But how great an obstacle? She was going to tell him, faithfully, frankly, all the story of her marriage—accuse her own rash self-will in marrying Delane, confess her own failings as a wife; she would tell no hypocritical tale. She would make it plain that Roger had found in her no mere suffering saint, and that probably her intolerance and impatience had contributed to send him to damnation. But, after all, when it was told, what could Ellesborough do but pity her?—take her in his arms—and comfort her—for those awful years—and her lost child?
The tears rained down her cheeks. He loved her! She was certain of that. When he had once heard the story, he could not forsake her! She already saw the pity in his deep grey eyes; she already felt his honest, protecting arms about her.
Ah—but then? Beyond that imagined scene, which rose, as though it were staged, before her, Rachel’s shrinking eyes, in the windy darkness, seemed to be penetrating to another—a phantom scene in a dim distance—drawn not from the future, but the past. Two figures moved in it. One was herself. The other was not Roger Delane.
The brown owl seemed to be shrieking just outside her window. Her nerves quivered under the sound as though it were her own voice. Why was life so cruel, so miserable? Why cannot even the gods themselves make undone what is done? She was none the worse—permanently—for what had happened in that distant scene—that play within a play? How was she the worse? She was “not a bad woman!”—as she had said so passionately to Janet, when they joined hands. There was no lasting taint left in mind and soul—nothing to prevent her being a pure and faithful wife to George Ellesborough, and a good mother to his children. It was another Rachel to whom all that had happened, a Rachel she had a right to forget! She was weak in will—she had confessed it. But George Ellesborough was strong. Leaning on him, and on kind Janet, she could be all, she would be all, that he still dreamed. The past—that past—was dead. It had no existence. Nothing—neither honour nor love—obliged her to disclose it. Except in her own mind it was dead and buried—as though it had never been. No human being shared her knowledge of it, or ever would.