There was a little break in his voice, but Bella was too incensed to heed it.
“You mean that you did not abuse me when you had it entirely your own way! Wonderful! Perhaps you did not know that you bored me to death the whole time. And now you have got it at last. I’m tired of your cheap gentility and Brummagem pretensions; sick to death of hearing that nothing I have been used to is “proper.” If my world is a second rate one, show me a better. Why don’t you introduce me to your own, if it is so vastly superior? Have you done it? Not you! You bury me in this poky little hole and deliberately insult the only friends I have who take the trouble to come and look me up.”
Chetwynd passed his hand over his brow dreamily. The whole thing was such a shock to him, he could hardly realise it.
“I hope you are saying much more than you mean,” he said at last. “God knows if you have been dull I never suspected it.”
“Because I have not grumbled—because I smiled instead of yawning, and laughed when I felt like crying, you never suspected it! Did you ever ask yourself what amusements you were providing for me while you were out all day? Not for a moment. Men like you never do, when they marry girls like us. You fancy you have been very noble and chivalrous and plucky; but what you have really done is to get what you want and leave me to pay the cost. Once your wife, there was an end of the matter so far as you were concerned, and to marry you was to complete my destiny! I was to sit all day long staring at the four walls, and if I happened to feel lonely, take a look at my marriage certificate to cheer myself up! well—” she drew a long breath and suddenly left her seat and came quite close to him. “Well,” she said again, “I am not satisfied—do you hear? It may be the height of ingratitude, but it is a fact all the same. I am not content and I have made up my mind (you may as well know it now as at any other time) to go back to the stage. The life suits me and I am going to do it.” And then she paused.
If she expected her husband to storm and rave, insist and expostulate, she was disappointed. He sat dumb and voiceless, his face buried in his hands, and he did not even look up when, with the air of a victor, Bella marched across the floor, beckoned to her sister, and went up to her own room.
“I never gave you credit for such real grit,” began Saidie, admiringly; but to her surprise Bella flung herself on the bed and burst into uncontrollable sobs.
“I wish I was dead,” she cried. “I am a beast—an ungrateful beast; and I have said what is not true. I have loved him always—always.”
“Well, you can’t go back from your word now,” said Saidie; “You said you would do it.”
“Yes, and I will.” Bella sat up and dried her eyes. “I will go back to the stage; but I did not say I would stop there, and I shan’t if I’m not happy, and if it makes a break between me and Jack.”