Mabel was convinced he loathed and detested the Penny Green Garden Home Development; and actually he rather liked the Penny Green Garden Home Development; and yet he couldn’t tell her so; and she did not understand in the least when he tried to tell her so. Funny—eight years ago this month....
His thoughts went on. And, come to think of it, the relations between them were precisely similar in regard to nearly everything they ever discussed. And yet they would be called, and were, a perfectly happy couple. Perfectly? Was every happy married couple just what they were? Was married happiness, then, merely the negation of violent unhappiness? Merely not beating your wife, and your wife not drinking or running up debts? He thought: “No, no, there’s something more in it than that.” And then his forehead wrinkled up in his characteristic habit and he thought: “Of course, it’s my fault. It isn’t only this dashed Garden Home. It’s everything. It isn’t only once. It’s always. It can’t possibly be her fault always. It’s mine. I can see that.
“Take this morning at breakfast. Perfectly good temper both of us. Then she said, ’Those houses in King’s Close are going to be eighty pounds a year; and, what do you think, Mrs. Toller is going to take one!’ Immediately I was riled. Why should I get riled because she says that Mrs. Toller is going to take a house for eighty pounds a year? I just rustled the newspaper. Why on earth couldn’t I say, ‘Good lord, is she?’ or something like that? Why on earth couldn’t I even not rustle the newspaper? She knows what it means when I rustle the paper. I meant her to know. Why should I? It’s the easiest thing on earth for me to respond to what she says. I know perfectly well what she’s getting at. I could easily have said that Mrs. Toller would have old Toller in the workhouse one of these days if he didn’t watch it. I could have said, ’She’ll be keeping three servants next, and she can’t keep one as it is.’ Mabel would have loved that. She’d have laughed.”
He thought, “Why should she love that sort of tripe—gossip?”
He thought, “Damn it, why shouldn’t she? Why should I mind? Why should I rustle the newspaper? She can’t enter into things that interest me; but I can, I could enter into things that interest her. Why don’t I? Of course I can see perfectly clearly how she looks at things. It’s just as rotten for her that I can’t talk with her about her ideas as it is rotten for me that she doesn’t see my ideas. And it isn’t rotten for me. I don’t mind it. I don’t expect it. I don’t expect it....”
And at that precise moment of his thoughts, the garrulous Hapgood, seeing his face, could have said to another, as he said before, “There! See what I mean? Looks as though he’d lost something and was wondering where it was. Ha!”
A genial shouting and the clatter of agitated hoofs jerked Sabre from his thoughts.