“I am sorry you took so much trouble,” she said, in a low voice—and there was a nervous restraint in her manner. “You might have answered my letter, instead.”
“Your letter!” he exclaimed. “Why Gerty, I could not talk to the letter. It was not yourself. It was no more part of yourself than a glove. You will forget that letter, and all the letters that ever you wrote; let them go away like the leaves of former autumns that are quite forgotten; and instead of the letters, be yourself—as I see you now—proud-spirited and noble—my beautiful Gerty—my wife!”
He make a step forward and caught her hand. She did not see that there were sudden tears in the imploring eyes. She only knew that this vehemence seemed to suffocate her.
“Keith,” said she, and she gently disengaged her hand, “will you sit down, and we can talk over this matter calmly, if you please; but I think it would have been better if you left us both to explain ourselves in writing. It is difficult to say certain things without giving pain—and you know I don’t wish to do that—”
“I know,” said he, with an absent look on his face; and he took the chair she had indicated, and sat down beside her; and now he was no longer regarding her eyes.
“It is quite true that you and I are different,” said she, with a certain resolution in her tone, as if she was determined to get through with a painful task—“very seriously different in everything—in our natures, and habits, and opinions, and all the rest of it. How we ever became acquainted I don’t know; I am afraid it was not a fortunate accident for either of us. Well—”
Here she stopped. She had not prepared any speech; and she suddenly found herself without a word to say, when words, words, words were all she eagerly wanted in order to cover her retreat. And as for him, he gave her no help. He sat silent—his eyes downcast—a tired and haggard look on his face.
“Well,” she resumed, with a violent effort, “I was saying, perhaps we made a mistake in our estimates of each other. That is a very common thing; and sometimes people find out in time, and sometimes they don’t. I am sure you agree with me, Keith?”
“Oh yes, Gerty,” he answered, absently.
“And then—and then—I am quite ready to confess that I may have been mistaken about myself; and I am afraid you encouraged the mistake. You know, I am quite sure, I am not the heroic person you tried to make me believe I was. I have found myself out, Keith; and just in time before making a terrible blunder. I am very glad that it is myself I have to blame. I have got very little resolution. ’Unstable as water’—that is the phrase: perhaps I should not like other people to apply it to me; but I am quite ready to apply it to myself; for I know it to be true; and it would be a great pity if any one’s life were made miserable through my fault. Of course, I thought for a time that I was a very courageous and resolute person—you flattered me into believing it; but I have found myself out since. Don’t you understand, Keith?”