“Oh, stop, stop, for heaven’s sake stop, or I shall think we’re attending a funeral.”
Another day I offered to read to him. The Reverend Mother used to say I was the best reader she had ever heard, but perhaps it was not altogether my husband’s fault if he formed a different opinion. And indeed I cannot but think that the holy saints themselves would have laughed if they had heard me reading aloud, in the voice and intonation which I had assumed for the meditations of St. Francis of Assisi, the mystic allusions to “certs,” and “bookies,” and “punters,” and “evens,” and “scratchings,” which formed the substance of the sporting journals that were my husband’s only literature.
“Oh, stop it, stop it,” he cried again. “You read the ‘Winning Post’ as if it were the Book of Revelation.”
As time passed the gulf that separated me from my husband became still greater. If I could have entertained him with any kind of gossip we might have got on better. But I had no conversation that interested him, and he had little or none that I could pretend to understand. He loved the town; I loved the country; he loved the night and the blaze of electric lights; I loved the morning and the sweetness of the sun.
At the bottom of my heart I knew that his mind was common, low and narrow, and that his tastes were gross and vulgar, but I was determined to conquer the repulsion I felt for him.
It was impossible. If I could have struck one spark from the flint of his heart the relations between us might have been different. If his look could have met my look in a single glance of understanding I could have borne with his impatience and struggled on.
But nothing of this kind ever happened, and when one dreary night after grumbling at the servants, cursing his fate and abusing everybody and everything, he put on his hat and went out saying he had “better have married Lena [the other woman] after all,” for in that case he would have had “some sort of society anyway,” the revulsion I had felt on the night of my marriage came sweeping over me like a wave of the sea, and I asked myself again, “What’s the good? What’s the good?”
Nevertheless next day I found myself taking my husband’s side against myself.
If he had sacrificed anything in order to marry me it was my duty to make it up to him.
I resolved that I should make it up to him. I would study my husband’s likes and dislikes in every little thing. I would share in his pleasures and enter into his life. I would show him that a wife was something other and better than any hired woman in the world, and that when she cast in her lot with her husband it was for his own sake only and not for any fortune he could spend on her.
“Yes, yes, that’s what I’ll do,” I thought, and I became more solicitous of my husband’s happiness than if I had really and truly loved him.