Jaffery eBook

William John Locke
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 296 pages of information about Jaffery.
him “a barren rascal,” and had lashed him into fury; when, white with realisation that the secret was about to escape from his lips, he had laid her on the sofa and had gone blindly into the street.  Now facing each other for the first time after many months, they remembered all too poignantly that parting.  The barren rascal who stood before her was the man who had written every word of Adrian’s triumphant second novel, and had given it to her out of the largesse of his love.  And he had borne with patience all her imperious strictures and had obeyed all her crazy and jealous whims.  He had fooled her—­quixotically fooled her, it is true—­but fooled her as never woman had been fooled in the world before.  And knowing Adrian to be the barren rascal, all the time, never had he wavered in his loyalty, never had he uttered one disparaging word.  And he had secured the insertion of a life of Adrian in the next supplement to the Dictionary of National Biography; and he had helped her to set up that staring white marble monument in Highgate Cemetery, with its lying inscription.  Never had human soul been invested in such a Nessus shirt of irony.  No wonder she had passed through Hell-fire.  No wonder her soul had been scorched and shrivelled up.  No wonder the licking fires of unutterable shame kept her awake of nights.  And if she writhed in the flaming humiliation of it all when she was alone, what was that woman’s anguish of abasement when she stood face to face, and compelled to speech, with the man whose loving hand had unwittingly kindled that burning torment?

The poor human love for Adrian was not dead.  That secret I had plucked out of her heart a few weeks ago in the garden.  How did she regard the man who must have held Adrian in the worst of contempt, the contempt of pity?  She hated him.  I was sure she hated him.  I could not take my mind off those two closeted together.  What was happening?  Again and again I went over the whole disastrous story.  What would be the end?  I wearied myself for a long, long time with futile speculation.

* * * * *

My library door opened, and Liosha, bright-eyed, with quivering lip and tragic face, burst in, and seeing me, flung herself down by my side and buried her head on the arm of the chair and began to cry wretchedly.

“My dear, my dear,” said I, bewildered by this tornado of misery.  “My dear,” said I, putting an arm round her shoulders, “what is the matter?”

“I’m a fool,” she wailed.  “I know I’m a fool, but I can’t help it.  I went in there just now.  I didn’t know they were there.  Susan’s music mistress came and I had to go out of the nursery—­and I went into the drawing-room.  Oh, it’s hard, Hilary, dear—­it’s damned hard.”

“My poor Liosha,” said I.

“There doesn’t seem to be a place in the world for me.”

“There’s lots of places in our hearts,” I said as soothingly as I could.  But the assurance gave her little comfort.  Her body shook.

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Jaffery from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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