The Vehement Flame eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 364 pages of information about The Vehement Flame.

“Who said that?” Maurice said.

Edith said she’d forgotten:  “But I bet it’s true.  I’d simply hate a jealous person, no matter how much they loved me!  Wouldn’t you, Eleanor?  Wouldn’t you hate Maurice if he was jealous of you?  I declare I don’t see how you can be so fond of Bingo!”

Maurice, suddenly ashamed of himself for his pleasure in seeing Eleanor hit, was saying, inaudibly, “Good Lord! what will she say next?” To keep her quiet, he said, good-naturedly, “Don’t you want to sing, Nelly?”

She said, very low, “No.”  Her throat ached with the pain of knowing that the one little contribution she could make to the occasion was not really wanted!

Maurice did not urge her.  He and the other two took off their shoes and stockings; and went with squeals across the stubble, down a steep bank, to a pebbly point of sand, round which a sunny swirl of water chattered loudly, then went romping off into sparkling shallows.  Edith’s lifted skirt, as she stepped into the current, assured her against the wetting Eleanor had foreseen, and also showed her pretty legs—­and Eleanor, on the bank, her tensely trembling hand cuddling Bingo against her knee, “guarded” her things!  It was at this moment that her old, unrecognized envy of Youth turned into a perfectly recognizable fear of Age.  Edith was a woman now, not a child!  “And I—­dislike her!” Eleanor said to herself.  She sat there alone, thinking of Edith’s defects—­her big mouth, her bad manners, her loud voice; and as she thought,—­watching the waders all the while with tear-blurred eyes until a turn in the current hid them—­she felt this new dislike flowing in upon her:  “He talks to her; and forgets all about me!” ...  She was deeply hurt.  “He says she has ‘brains.’ ...  He doesn’t mind it when she says she ’doesn’t care for music,’ which is rude to me!  And she talks about jealousy!  She knows I’m jealous.  Any woman who loves her husband is jealous.”

Of course this pathetically false opinion made it impossible for her to realize that jealousy is just a form of self-love, nor could she enlarge upon Edith’s naive generalization and say that, if a woman suffers because she is not the equal of the rival who gains her lover’s love—­that is not jealousy!  It is the anguish of recognizing her own defects, and it may be very noble.  If she suffers because the rival is her inferior, that is not jealousy; it is the anguish of recognizing defects in her lover, and it, too, is noble, for she is unhappy, not because he has slighted her, but because he has slighted himself!  Jealousy has no such noble elements; it is the unhappiness that Bingo knows—­an ignoble agony! ...  But Eleanor, like many pitiful wives, did not know this.  Sitting there on the bank of the river, without aspiration for herself or regret for Maurice, she knew only the anguish of being neglected.  “He wouldn’t have left me six years ago,” she said; “He doesn’t even ask me if I want to wade!  I don’t; but he didn’t ask me.  He just went off with her!”

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The Vehement Flame from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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