The Patrician eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 339 pages of information about The Patrician.
unpardonable sin!  Yet surely that depended on what she was prepared to give!  And she was frankly ready to give everything, and ask for nothing.  He knew her position, he had told her that he knew.  In her love for him she gloried, would continue to glory; would suffer for it without regret.  Miltoun was right in believing that newspaper gossip was incapable of hurting her, though her reasons for being so impervious were not what he supposed.  She was not, like him, secured from pain because such insinuations about the private affairs of others were mean and vulgar and beneath notice; it had not as yet occurred to her to look at the matter in so lofty and general a light; she simply was not hurt, because she was already so deeply Miltoun’s property in spirit, that she was almost glad that they should assign him all the rest of her.  But for Miltoun’s sake she was disturbed to the soul.  She had tarnished his shield in the eyes of men; and (for she was oddly practical, and saw things in very clear proportion) perhaps put back his career, who knew how many years!

She sat down to drink her tea.  Not being a crying woman, she suffered quietly.  She felt that Miltoun would be coming to her.  She did not know at all what she should say when he did come.  He could not care for her so much as she cared for him!  He was a man; men soon forget!  Ah! but he was not like most men.  One could not look at his eyes without feeling that he could suffer terribly!  In all this her own reputation concerned her not at all.  Life, and her clear way of looking at things, had rooted in her the conviction that to a woman the preciousness of her reputation was a fiction invented by men entirely for man’s benefit; a second-hand fetish insidiously, inevitably set-up by men for worship, in novels, plays, and law-courts.  Her instinct told her that men could not feel secure in the possession of their women unless they could believe that women set tremendous store by sexual reputation.  What they wanted to believe, that they did believe!  But she knew otherwise.  Such great-minded women as she had met or read of had always left on her the impression that reputation for them was a matter of the spirit, having little to do with sex.  From her own feelings she knew that reputation, for a simple woman, meant to stand well in the eyes of him or her whom she loved best.  For worldly women—­and there were so many kinds of those, besides the merely fashionable—­she had always noted that its value was not intrinsic, but commercial; not a crown of dignity, but just a marketable asset.  She did not dread in the least what people might say of her friendship with Miltoun; nor did she feel at all that her indissoluble marriage forbade her loving him.  She had secretly felt free as soon as she had discovered that she had never really loved her husband; she had only gone on dutifully until the separation, from sheer passivity, and because it was against her nature to cause pain to anyone.  The man who was still her husband was now as dead to her as if he had never been born.  She could not marry again, it was true; but she could and did love.  If that love was to be starved and die away, it would not be because of any moral scruples.

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The Patrician from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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