They were all against her. Her own brother had spoken, only a few moments ago, of her marriage as horrible. “A girl like you and a hired man!” She could hear him now. And he had spoken of her leaving as a matter of course. He couldn’t have done it if he had cared. He liked the comforts that a woman brings to a house, the little touches that no man’s hand can give, that a woman, even as unskillful as she, brings about instinctively, that was all. Almost any other woman could do as well. He did not prize her for herself.
And she would go back to England and, as Hornby had gleefully said, no one need ever know. She would have a place, on sufferance, in other people’s homes. The only change that the year would have made in her life would be that the check in her pocket, safely invested, might save her eventually, when she was too old to serve as a companion, from being dependant on actual charity. And to all outward intents and purposes, the year would be as if it had never been.
“In six months, all you’ve gone through here will seem nothing but a hideous dream,” her brother had promised her. Was there ever a man since the world began that understood a woman! A dream! The only time in her life that she had really lived. No, all the rest of her life might be of the stuff that dreams are made on, but not this. And like a sleep-walker, dead to all sensation, she must go through with it.
And she was not yet thirty. All of her father’s family—and she was physically the daughter of her father, not of her mother—lived to such a great age. In all human probability there would be at least fifty years of life left to her. Fifty years with all that made life worth living behind one!
She supposed he would eventually get a divorce. She remembered to have heard that such things were easy out here, not like it was in England. And he was a man who would be sure to marry again, he would want a family.
And it was some other woman who would be the mother of his children!
The wave of passion that swept her now, made up of bitter regret, of longing and of jealousy, overwhelmed her as never before.
She had been pacing the room up and down, up and down, stopping now and then to touch some little familiar object with a touch that was a caress.
But at this last thought, she sank into a chair and buried her face in her hands.
The storm of weeping which shook her had nearly spent itself, when she heard steps coming toward the house, a step that her heart had known for many a day. Drying her eyes quickly, she went to the window and made a pretense of looking out that he might not see her tear-stained face. She made a last call on her pride and strength to carry her through the coming interview. He should never know what leaving cost her; that she promised herself.