“I can’t get in my nightgown—in case he wakes up and sees me,” she said. A moment later, rolled in her old plaid travelling rug she lay on the floor. It did not seem uncomfortable; it did not seem an extraordinary thing to her for a girl to go to sleep on the floor; she had her father to thank for immunity from small physical discomforts.
Marcella was wakened several times during the night; she was cold and stiff, but only apprehended her discomfort vaguely as she listened to Louis muttering—mostly in French. Each time she spoke softly to him as she used to speak to her father when he was ill. To her he suddenly became an invalid; as the days went on she accepted the role of mother and nurse to him; only occasionally did a more normal love flame out, bewildering and enchanting as his kisses on the Oriana had enchanted and bewildered her. She felt, often, contemptuous of a man who had to stay in bed and have his clothes locked up to save him from getting drunk; at the same time she admired him for attempting so drastic a cure. It was a wholly delightful experience to her to have money and spend it on buying things for him; she would, at this time, have been unrecognizable to Dr. Angus and Wullie; they would never have seen their rather dreamy, very boy-like, almost unembodied Marcella of Lashnagar in the Marcella of Sydney, with her alternate brooding maternal tenderness that guarded him as a baby, or with the melting softness of suddenly released passion. All her life she had been “saved up,” dammed back, save for her inarticulate adoration of her mother, her heart-rending love of her father and her comradeship with Wullie and the doctor. Louis had opened the lock gates of her love and got the full sweep of the flood. But he gave nothing in return save the appeal of weakness, the rather disillusioning charm of discovery and novelty.
For the first few weeks in Sydney she walked in an aura of passion strangely blended of the physical and the spiritual. She knew nothing about men; what she had seen on the ship made her class them as nuisances to be put in the sea out of hand. Her father was the only man she had known intimately before. Her father had been a weak man, and yet a tyrant and an autocrat. Logically, then, all men were tyrants and autocrats. The women in Sydney whom she saw in Mrs. King’s kitchen, where she went to learn how to cook, talked much of their husbands, calling them “boss.” Hence she meekly accepted Louis’s autocratic orderings of her coming and going. Again, her father had been gripped, in the tentacles first of the whisky-cult, and later of the God-cult. Therefore, she reasoned, all men were so gripped by something. It was a pity that they were so gripped. It seemed to her that women must have been created to be soft cushions for men to fall upon, props to keep them up, nurses to minister to their weakness. She slowly came to realize