The Vehement Flame eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 508 pages of information about The Vehement Flame.
became stronger:  “I didn’t make him happy not because I was old, but because I was selfish....”  So, in alternating gusts of anger and fear, and outraged pride,—­and self-forgetting horror for Maurice,—­her soul began to awake.  Again and again she counted the reasons why he had not been happy, beginning with the obvious reason, his youth and her age:  But that did not explain it.  “We had no children.”  That did not explain it!  Nor, “I wasn’t a good housekeeper”; nor, “I didn’t do things with him ...  I didn’t skate, and walk, and joke with him”; nor, “I didn’t entertain him.  Auntie always said men must be entertained.  I—­I am stupid.”  There was no explanation in such things; neither dullness nor inefficiency was enough to drive a man like Maurice Curtis into dishonor or faithlessness!  Then came the real explanation—­which jealousy so rarely puts into words:  “I was selfish.” At first, this bleak truthfulness was only momentary.  Almost immediately she was swept from the noble pain of knowing that Maurice had been false to himself; swept from the sense of her own share in that falseness, swept back to the insult to herself!  Back to self-love.  With this was the fear that if she accused him, if she told him that she knew he was false to her, if she made him very angry, he would leave her, and go and live with this woman—­who had given him a child ...  Yet every morning when she got up, she would say to herself, “I’ll tell him to-day.”  And every night when she went to bed, “To-morrow.”

Still she did not “have it out with him.”  Then weeks pushed in between her and that Sunday afternoon when the resealed telegram had been put on the hall table.  And by and by it was a month, and still she could not speak.  And after a while it was June—­June, and the anniversary (which Maurice happened to forget, and to which Eleanor’s suffering love would not permit her to refer!).  By that June day, that marked nine of the golden fifty years, Eleanor had done what many another sad and injured woman has done—­dug a grave in her heart, and buried Trust and Pride in it; and then watched the grave night and day.  Sometimes, as she watched, her thought was:  “If he would tell me the truth, even now, I would forgive him.  It is his living a lie, every day, every minute, that I can’t bear!” Then she would look at Maurice—­sitting at the piano, perhaps, playing dreamily, or standing up in front of the fireplace filling his pipe, and poking old Bingo with his foot and telling him he was getting too fat; “You’re ‘losin’ your figger,’ Bingo!” Eleanor, looking and listening, would say to herself, “Is he thinking of Mrs. Dale, now?” And all day long, when she was alone (watching the grave), she would think:  “Where is he now?  Is he with her?  Oh, I think I will follow him,—­and watch....  Was he with her last night when he said he had gone to the theater? ...  Is he lying to me when he says he has to go away on business, and is he really with her?  It’s the lying I can’t bear!  If only he would not lie to me!...  Does she call him ‘Maurice’?  Perhaps she called him ’darling’?” The thought of an intimacy like that, was oil on the vehement flame!

Project Gutenberg
The Vehement Flame from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook