Gyp got up and stood by the window a long time without answering. Winton watched her face. At last she said:
“I couldn’t. We might stop seeing each other; it isn’t that. It’s what I should feel. I shouldn’t respect myself after; I should feel so mean. Oh, Dad, don’t you see? He really loved me in his way. And to pretend! To make out a case for myself, tell about Daphne Wing, about his drinking, and baby; pretend that I wanted him to love me, when I got to hate it and didn’t care really whether he was faithful or not—and knowing all the while that I’ve been everything to someone else! I couldn’t. I’d much rather let him know, and ask him to divorce me.”
“And suppose he won’t?”
“Then my mind would be clear, anyway; and we would take what we could.”
“And little Gyp?”
Staring before her as if trying to see into the future, she said slowly:
“Some day, she’ll understand, as I do. Or perhaps it will be all over before she knows. Does happiness ever last?”
And, going up to him, she bent over, kissed his forehead, and went out. The warmth from her lips, and the scent of her remained with Winton like a sensation wafted from the past.
Was there then nothing to be done—nothing? Men of his stamp do not, as a general thing, see very deep even into those who are nearest to them; but to-night he saw his daughter’s nature more fully perhaps than ever before. No use to importune her to act against her instincts—not a bit of use! And yet—how to sit and watch it all—watch his own passion with its ecstasy and its heart-burnings re-enacted with her—perhaps for many years? And the old vulgar saying passed through his mind: “What’s bred in the bone will come out in the meat.” Now she had given, she would give with both hands—beyond measure—beyond!—as he himself, as her mother had given! Ah, well, she was better off than his own loved one had been. One must not go ahead of trouble, or cry over spilled milk!
Gyp had a wakeful night. The question she herself had raised, of telling Fiorsen, kept her thoughts in turmoil. Was he likely to divorce her if she did? His contempt for what he called ‘these bourgeois morals,’ his instability, the very unpleasantness, and offence to his vanity—all this would prevent him. No; he would not divorce her, she was sure, unless by any chance he wanted legal freedom, and that was quite unlikely. What then would be gained? Ease for her conscience? But had she any right to ease her conscience if it brought harm to her lover? And was it not ridiculous to think of conscience in regard to one who, within a year of marriage, had taken to himself a mistress, and not even spared the home paid for and supported by his wife? No; if she told Fiorsen, it would only be to salve her pride, wounded by doing what she did not avow. Besides, where was he? At the other end of the world for all she knew.