“That’s only right, only fair. It will be worth winning, too—better worth winning than all your father’s gold and silver ten times over. I can tell him that much anyway.”
He had risen to his feet in his excitement, the simple old priest with his pure heart and his beautiful faith in me.
“And you, my child, you’ll try to love him in return—promise you will.”
A shiver ran through me when Father Dan said that—a sense of the repugnance I felt for my husband almost stifled me.
“Promise me,” said Father Dan, and though my face must have been scarlet, I promised him.
“That’s right. That alone will make him a better man. He may be all that people say, but who can measure the miraculous influence of a good woman?”
He was making for the door.
“I must go downstairs now and speak to your husband. But he’ll agree. Why shouldn’t he? I know he’s afraid of a public scandal, and if he attempts to refuse I’ll tell him that. . . . But no, that will be quite unnecessary. Good-bye, my child! If I don’t come back you’ll know that everything has been settled satisfactorily. You’ll be happy yet. I’m sure you will. Ah, what did I say about the mysterious power of that solemn and sacred sacrament? Good-bye!”
I meant what I had said. I meant to do what I had promised. God knows I did. But does a woman ever know her own heart? Or is heaven alone the judge of it?
At four o’clock that afternoon my husband left Ellan for England. I went with him.
Having made my bargain I set myself to fulfil the conditions of it. I had faithfully promised to try to love my husband and I prepared to do so.
Did not love require that a wife should look up to and respect and even reverence the man she had married? I made up my mind to do that by shutting my eyes to my husband’s obvious faults and seeing only his better qualities.
What disappointments were in store for me! What crushing and humiliating disillusionments!
On the night of our arrival in London we put up at a fashionable hotel in a quiet but well-known part of the West-end, which is inhabited chiefly by consulting physicians and celebrated surgeons. Here, to my surprise, we were immediately discovered, and lines of visitors waited upon my husband the following morning.
I thought they were his friends, and a ridiculous little spurt of pride came to me from heaven knows where with the idea that my husband must be a man of some importance in the metropolis.
But I discovered they were his creditors, money-lenders and bookmakers, to whom he owed debts of “honour” which he had been unable or unwilling to disclose to my father and his advocate.
One of my husband’s visitors was a pertinacious little man who came early and stayed late. He was a solicitor, and my husband was obviously in some fear of him. The interviews between them, while they were closeted together morning after morning in one of our two sitting-rooms, were long and apparently unpleasant, for more than once I caught the sound of angry words on both sides, with oaths and heavy blows upon the table.