Watching Fiorsen closely, that spring and early summer, she was conscious of a change, a sort of loosening, something in him had given way—as when, in winding a watch, the key turns on and on, the ratchet being broken. Yet he was certainly working hard—perhaps harder than ever. She would hear him, across the garden, going over and over a passage, as if he never would be satisfied. But his playing seemed to her to have lost its fire and sweep; to be stale, and as if disillusioned. It was all as though he had said to himself: “What’s the use?” In his face, too, there was a change. She knew—she was certain that he was drinking secretly. Was it his failure with her? Was it the girl? Was it simply heredity from a hard-drinking ancestry?
Gyp never faced these questions. To face them would mean useless discussion, useless admission that she could not love him, useless asseveration from him about the girl, which she would not believe, useless denials of all sorts. Hopeless!
He was very irritable, and seemed especially to resent her music lessons, alluding to them with a sort of sneering impatience. She felt that he despised them as amateurish, and secretly resented it. He was often impatient, too, of the time she gave to the baby. His own conduct with the little creature was like all the rest of him. He would go to the nursery, much to Betty’s alarm, and take up the baby; be charming with it for about ten minutes, then suddenly dump it back into its cradle, stare at it gloomily or utter a laugh, and go out. Sometimes, he would come up when Gyp was there, and after watching her a little in silence, almost drag her away.
Suffering always from the guilty consciousness of having no love for him, and ever more and more from her sense that, instead of saving him she was, as it were, pushing him down-hill—ironical nemesis for vanity!—Gyp was ever more and more compliant to his whims, trying to make up. But this compliance, when all the time she felt further and further away, was straining her to breaking-point. Hers was a nature that goes on passively enduring till something snaps; after that—no more.
Those months of spring and summer were like a long spell of drought, when moisture gathers far away, coming nearer, nearer, till, at last, the deluge bursts and sweeps the garden.