Yet he was driven to play the mean part—the part for which there never will be—perhaps never should be—any sympathy. And he must play it with the best grace he could. A man is always a spectator to his own actions; a woman, in her emotions—never. So women lose their self-respect more easily than men.
But Traill was not the type to allow these abstract considerations to worry him. The love in him she found to be dead. He was not even moved by the piteousness of her appeal. There, then, it must end. It was not his nature to choose the most graceful, the kindest way to end it. He snapped it off as, across the knees, you break a faggot for the burning. And that, too, is the only way to do it.
“I didn’t come up here,” he said, “to discuss anything. The whole thing’s discussed in my mind. When I saw you running after the car, pushing your way along the gutter—that ended it. You’d better read through your settlement now and if you don’t think I’ve been generous enough, tell me to-morrow morning. I shall be downstairs till eleven.”
He opened the door—passed through—closed it. She listened to each one of his steps as he descended the stairs, her mouth hanging open, her eyes struck in a fixed glare at the spot where he had stood. Then, when she heard him close his door below, she just crumpled up in an abandoned heap upon the floor, and with each breath she moaned—“Oh—oh—oh.”
Traill, undressing below, heard it. With a muttered exclamation, he dragged his shirt over his head and flung it violently into the corner of the room amongst the bundle of dirty linen.
Virtue is the personality of many women. Rob them of it, those of them whose value it enhances, and you prize a jewel from its setting, you wrench a star out of the mystery of the heavens and bring it down to earth. It is a common trend of the mind in these modern days to make nobility out of the women whose personality needs no virtue to lift it to a pedestal of fame. But really, it is they who make the nobility for themselves. Phryne of Athens, Helen of Troy, Catherine of Russia, Mary of Scotland—these are women who have ennobled themselves without aid of eulogy. Personality has been theirs without necessity for the robe of virtue to grace them in the eyes of the world. But with the seemingly lesser women, the women of seemingly no vast account—with those whose whole individuality depends upon the invaluable possession of their virtue, no great epic can well be sung, no loud paean sounded. You may find just a lyric here, a rondel there, set to the lilt of a phrase in an idle hour and sung in a passing moment to send a tired heart asleep. But that is all. Yet they are the women upon whom the world has spent six