But when I awoke early in the morning, very early, while the sunrise was filling my bedroom with a rosy flush, and the thought of Martin was the first that was springing from the mists of sleep to my conscious mind, and I was asking myself how it happened that I was feeling so glad, while I had so many causes for grief, then suddenly—suddenly as the sun streams through the cloud-scud over the sea—I knew that what had long been predestined had happened, that the wondrous new birth, the great revelation, the joyous mystery which comes to every happy woman in the world had come at last to me.
I was in love.
I was in love with Martin Conrad.
My joy was short-lived. No sooner had I become aware that I loved Martin Conrad, than my conscience told me I had no right to do so. I was married, and to love another than my husband was sin.
It would be impossible to say with what terror this thought possessed me. It took all the sunlight out of my sky, which a moment before had seemed so bright. It came on me like a storm of thunder and lightning, sweeping my happiness into the abyss.
All my religion, everything I had been taught about the sanctity of the sacrament of marriage seemed to rise up and accuse me. It was not that I was conscious of any sin against my husband. I was thinking only of my sin against God.
The first effect was to make me realise that it was no longer possible for me to speak to Martin about my husband and Alma. To do this now that I knew I loved him would be deceitful, mean, almost treacherous.
The next effect was to make me see that all thought of a separation must now be given up. How could I accuse my husband when I was myself in the same position? If he loved another woman, I loved another man.
In my distress and fright I saw only one means of escape either from the filthy burden to which I was bound or the consciousness of a sinful heart, and that was to cure myself of my passion. I determined to do so. I determined to fight against my love for Martin Conrad, to conquer it and to crush it.
My first attempt to do this was feeble enough. It was an effort to keep myself out of the reach of temptation by refusing to see Martin alone.
For three or four days I did my best to carry out this purpose, making one poor excuse after another, when (as happened several times a day) he came down to see me—that I was just going out or had just come in, or was tired or unwell.
It was tearing my heart out to deny myself so, but I think I could have borne the pain if I had not realised that I was causing pain to him also.
My maid, whose head was always running on Martin, would come hack to my room, after delivering one of my lying excuses, and say:
“You should have seen his face, when I told him you were ill. It was just as if I’d driven a knife into him.”