“Whether she’s right or wrong depends on you, though.”
“Why, yes, of course. That’s only natural. One may have all the goodwill in the world, but a man’s a man, you know.”
I felt my lips quivering with anger, and in an effort to control myself I rose to go, but my husband drew me back into my chair and sat on the arm of it.
“Don’t go yet. By the way, dear, I’ve never thanked you for the beautiful flowers with which you decorated my room this morning. Charming! But I always knew you would soon come round to it.”
“Come round to what?” I said, but it was just as if somebody else were speaking.
“You know. Of course you know. When that simple old priest proposed that ridiculous compact I agreed, but I knew quite well that it would soon break down. Not on my side, though. Why should it? A man can afford to wait. But I felt sure you would soon tire of your resistance. And you have, haven’t you? Oh, I’m not blind. I’ve seen what’s been going on, though I’ve said nothing about it.”
Again I tried to rise, and again my husband held me to my seat, saying:
“Don’t be ashamed. There’s no reason for that. You were rather hard on me, you know, but I’m going to forget all about it. Why shouldn’t I? I’ve got the loveliest little woman in the world, so I mean to meet her half way, and she’s going to get over her convent-bred ideas and be my dear little darling wife. Now isn’t she?”
I could have died of confusion and the utter degradation of shame. To think that my poor efforts to please him, my vain attempts to look up to him and reverence him, my bankrupt appeals to the spiritual woman in me that I might bring myself to love him, as I thought it was my duty to do, should have been perverted by his gross and vulgar mind into overtures to the animal man in him—this was more than I could bear. I felt the tears gushing to my eyes, but I kept them back, for my self-pity was not so strong as my wrath.
I rose this time without being aware of his resistance.
“Let me go to bed,” I said.
“Certainly! Most certainly, my dear, but. . . .”
“Let me go to bed,” I said again, and at the next moment I stepped into my room.
He did not attempt to follow me. I saw in a mirror in front what was taking place behind me.
My husband was standing where I had left him with a look first of amazement and then of rage.
“I can’t understand you,” he said. “Upon my soul I can’t! There isn’t a man in the world who could.” After that he strode into his own bedroom and clashed the door after him.
“Oh, what’s the good?” I thought again.
It was impossible to make myself in love with my husband. It was no use trying.
I must leave it to those who know better than I do the way to read the deep mysteries of a woman’s heart, to explain how it came to pass that the only result of this incident was to make me sure that if we remained in London much longer my husband would go back to the other woman, and to say why (seeing that I did not love him) I should have become feverishly anxious to remove him from the range of this temptation.