Barry and Gerda were married in January in a registry office, and, as all concerned disliked wedding parties, there was no wedding party.
After they had gone, Neville, recovered now from the lilies and languors of illness, plunged into the roses and raptures of social life. One mightn’t, she said to herself, be able to accomplish much in this world, or imprint one’s personality on one’s environment by deeds and achievements, but one could at least enjoy life, be a pleased participator in its spoils and pleasures, an enchanted spectator of its never-ending flux and pageant, its richly glowing moving pictures. One could watch the play out, even if one hadn’t much of a part oneself. Music, art, drama, the company of eminent, pleasant and entertaining persons, all the various forms of beauty, the carefully cultivated richness, graces and elegances which go to build up the world of the fortunate, the cultivated, the prosperous and the well-bred—Neville walked among these like the soul in the lordly pleasure house built for her by the poet Tennyson, or like Robert Browning glutting his sense upon the world—“Miser, there waits the gold for thee!”—or Francis Thompson swinging the earth a trinket at his wrist. In truth, she was at times self-consciously afraid that she resembled all these three, whom (in the moods they thus expressed) she disliked beyond reason, finding them morbid and hard to please.
She too knew herself morbid and hard to please. If she had not been so, to be Rodney’s wife would surely have been enough; it would have satisfied all her nature. Why didn’t it? Was it perhaps really because, though she loved him, it was not with the uncritical devotion of the early days? She had for so many years now seen clearly, through and behind his charm, his weakness, his vanities, his scorching ambitions and jealousies, his petulant angers, his dependence on praise and admiration. She had no jealousy now of his frequent confidential intimacies with other attractive women; they were harmless enough, and he never lost the need of and dependence on her; but they may have helped to clarify her vision of him.
Rodney had no failings beyond what are the common need of human nature; he was certainly good enough for her. Their marriage was all right. It was only the foolish devil of egotism in her which goaded to unwholesome activity the other side of her nature, that need for self-expression which marriage didn’t satisfy.
In February she suddenly tired of London and the British climate, and was moved by a desire to travel. So she went to Italy, and stayed in Capri with Nan and Stephen Lumley, who were leading on that island lives by turns gaily indolent and fiercely industrious, finding the company stimulating and the climate agreeable and soothing to Stephen’s defective lungs.