Although I had been brought up in such a different world altogether I could not help being carried away by all this beauty. My senses burgeoned out and my heart seemed to expand.
As for Alma and my husband, they seemed to belong to the scene of themselves. She would sit at one of the tea-tables, swishing away the buzzing flies with a little whip of cord and cowries, and making comments on the crowd in soft undertones which he alone seemed to catch. Her vivid and searching eyes, with their constant suggestion of laughter, seemed to be picking out absurdities on every side and finding nearly everybody funny.
She found me funny also. My innocence and my convent-bred ideas were a constant subject of jest with her.
“What does our dear little Margaret Mary think of that?” she would say with a significant smile, at sights that seemed to me quite harmless.
After a while I began to have a feeling of indefinable uneasiness about Alma. She was daily redoubling her cordiality, always calling me her “dearest sweetest girl,” and “the oldest friend she had in the world.” But little by little I became conscious of a certain commerce between her and my husband in which I had no part. Sometimes I saw her eyes seeking his, and occasionally I heard them exchange a few words about me in French, which (because I did not speak it, being uncertain of my accent) they thought I did not understand.
Perhaps this helped to sharpen my wits, for I began to see that I had gone the wrong way to work with my husband. Instead of trying to make myself fall in love with my husband, I should have tried to make my husband fall in love with me.
When I asked myself how this was to be done I found one obvious answer—I must become the sort of woman my husband admired and liked; in short I must imitate Alma.
I resolved to do this, and after all that has happened since I feel a little ashamed to tell of the efforts I made to play a part for which I was so ill-fitted by nature and education.
Some of them were silly enough perhaps, but some were almost pathetic, and I am not afraid that any good woman will laugh at the futile shifts I was put to, in my girlish ignorance, to make my husband love me.
“I must do it,” I thought. “I must, I must!”
Hitherto I had attended to myself, but now I determined to have a maid. I found one without much difficulty. Her name was Price. She was a very plain woman of thirty, with piercing black eyes; and when I engaged her she seemed anxious above all else to make me understand that she “never saw anything.”
I soon discovered that she saw everything, especially the relations between myself and my husband, and that she put her own interpretation (not a very flattering one) on our separated apartments. She also saw the position of Alma, and putting her own interpretation upon that also, she tortured me with many pin-pricks.