“I shall send you money. You shall not have that as an excuse. So far as I am concerned, you may enjoy the society of Fru Beck and your fine friends as long as ever you please.”
“And why should I not be allowed to speak to Fru Beck?” she cried, with her head thrown back, and with an expression of rising anger. “You don’t mean, I suppose, that there is anything against me that should prevent my entering her house? But there must be an end to this, Salve—and it is for the sake of our love I say it; for if matters go on as they have been going on so long between us,” she concluded slowly, and with a tremor in her voice, “you might live to see the day when it had ceased to exist. These things are not in our own power, Salve.”
He stood for a moment still, and gazed at her in speechless amazement, while the flash of his dark keen eyes showed that a devil had been roused within him, which he had the utmost difficulty in restraining.
“I will suppose that you have said this in a moment of excitement,” he said, with terrible calmness; “I shall not be angry with you—I shall forget it; I promise you that. And I think that you have not been quite yourself to-day—ill—”
“Don’t deceive yourself, Salve. I mean every word—as surely as I love you.”
“Farewell, Elizabeth; I shall be here again on Wednesday,” he said, as if he only held to his purpose, and did not care to hear any more of this. He left her then, and shut the door quietly behind him.
When he had gone, Elizabeth sank rather than sat down upon the bench. She was frightened at what she had said. A profound dread took possession of her. She knew his nature so well, and knew that she was risking everything, that the result might be that he would leave her altogether, and take to some misguided life far away from home. And yet it must—it must be dared. And with God’s help she would conquer, and bind him to her closer than ever he had been before.
As Salve stood and steered for home, he had as yet only a dull consciousness of what had occurred; but there was anger in his eye, and a hard determined look in his face. His pride had received a terrible shock. She had suddenly fallen upon him with all this on neutral ground; she had told him plainly that she had been unhappy, and that she felt she had been living under a tyranny the whole time of their married life. He smiled bitterly—well, he had been right, it seemed, all along in feeling that she was not open with him.
Yes, it was true that they had lived unhappily; but whose fault had it been? Had she not deceived him when he was young and confiding, and did not know what doubt was? And since?—he knew but too well what it had cost her to adapt herself to his humble circumstances.
He felt that the power which he had had over her for so many years was gone. It was as if she had all of a sudden set down a barrel of gunpowder on the floor of his house and threatened to blow it up. Such threats, however, would have no weight with him.