The Danger Mark eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 508 pages of information about The Danger Mark.

Kathleen, very pale, said:  “That is selfishness—­if you do it.”

“Are not men selfish?  He will not tell me as much of his life as I have told him of mine.  I have told him everything.  How do I know what risk I run?  Yes—­I do know; I take the risk of marrying a man notorious for his facility with women.  And he lets me take that risk.  Why should I not let him risk something?”

The girl seemed strangely excited; her quick breathing and bright, unsteady eyes betrayed the nervous tension of the last few days.  She said feverishly: 

“There is a lot of nonsense talked about self-sacrifice and love; about the beauties of abnegation and martyrdom, but, Kathleen, if I shall ever need him at all, I need him now.  I’m afraid to be alone any longer; I’m frightened at the chances against me.  Do you know what these days of horror have been to me, locked in here—­all alone—­in the depths of degradation for what—­what I did that night—­in distress and shame unutterable——­”

“My darling——­”

“Wait!  I had more to endure—­I had to endure the results of my education in the study of man!  I had to realise that I loved one of them who has done enough to annihilate in me anything except love.  I had to learn that he couldn’t kill that—­that I want him in spite of it, that I need him, that my heart is sick with dread; that he can have me when he will—­Oh, Kathleen, I have learned to care less for him than when I denied him for his own sake—­more for him than I did before he held me in his arms!  And that is not a high type of love—­I know it—­but oh, if I could only have his arms around me—­if I could rest there for a while—­and not feel so frightened, so utterly alone!—­I might win out; I might kill what is menacing me, with God’s help—­and his!”

She lay shivering on Kathleen’s breast now, dry-eyed, twisting her ringless fingers in dumb anguish.

“Darling, darling,” murmured Kathleen, “you cannot do this thing.  You cannot let him assume a burden that is yours alone.”

“Why not?  What is one’s lover for?”

“Not to use; not to hazard; not to be made responsible for a sick mind and a will already demoralised.  Is it fair to ask him—­to let him begin life with such a burden—­such a handicap?  Is it not braver, fairer, to fight it out alone, eradicate what threatens you—­oh, my own darling! my little Geraldine!—­is it not fairer to the man you love?  Is he not worth striving for, suffering for?  Have you no courage to endure if he is to be the reward?  Is a little selfish weakness, a miserable self-indulgence to stand between you and life-long happiness?”

Geraldine looked up; her face was very white: 

“Have you ever been tempted?”

“Have I not been to-night?”

“I mean by—­something ignoble?”


“Do you know how it hurts?”

“To—­to deny yourself?”

Project Gutenberg
The Danger Mark from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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