Littleton shook his head. “I agree with you that to go on as we are is our best course. As you say, we ought, if possible, to keep the knowledge of our sorrow to ourselves. God knows that I wish I could hope that our life could ever be as it was before. Too many things have become plain to me in the last half-hour to make that possible. I could never learn to accept or sympathize with your point of view. There can be no half-love with me, Selma. It is my nature to be frank, and as you are fond of saying, that is the American way. I am your husband still, and while I live you shall have my money and my protection. But I have ceased to be your lover, though my heart is broken.”
“Very well,” said Selma, after a painful pause. “But you know, Wilbur,” she added in a tone of eager protestation, “that I do not admit for a moment that I am at fault. I was simply trying to help you. You have only yourself to blame for your unhappiness and—and for mine. I hope you understand that.”
“Yes, I understand that you think so,” he said sadly.
The breach between Littleton and his wife was too serious to be healed, for he was confronted by the conviction that Selma was a very different being from the woman whom he had supposed that he was marrying. He had been slow to harbor distrust, and loath, even in the face of her own words, to admit that he had misinterpreted her character; but this last conversation left no room for doubt. Selma had declared to him, unequivocally, that his ideas and theory of life were repugnant to her, and that, henceforth, she intended to act independently of them, so far as she could do so, and yet maintain the semblance of the married state. It was a cruel shock and disappointment to him. At the time of his marriage he would have said that the least likely of possible happenings would be self-deception as to the character of the woman he loved. Yet this was precisely what had befallen him.
Having realized his mistake, he did not seek to flinch from the bitter truth. He saw clearly that their future relations toward each other must be largely formal; that tender comradeship and mutual soul alliance were at an end. At the same time his simple, direct conscience promptly indicated to him that it was his duty to recognize Selma’s point of view and endeavor to satisfy it as far as he could without sacrifice of his own principles. He chose to remember that she, too, had made a mistake, and that he was not the kind of husband whom she desired; that his tastes were not her tastes, nor his ambitions her’s; that she had tastes and ambitions of her own which he, as the man to whom she was bound by the law, must not disregard. Thus reasoning, he resolved to carry out the scheme of life which she appeared to despise, but also to work hard to provide her with the means to fulfil her own aims. She craved money for social advancement. She