Diane caught that note of dull endurance in his voice, and seized upon it. He still cared!
“Hugh, you’ve listened to Catherine till you’ve lost all sense of truth.” She spoke gently, pleadingly. “Don’t do this thing. We’ve been guilty of no sin that needs atonement. It isn’t wrong to love.”
But he was implacable.
“No,” he returned. “It isn’t wrong to love—but sometimes love should be denied.”
Diane drew nearer to him, and laid her hand on his arm.
“Not ours, Hugh,” she whispered. “Not love like ours—”
Hugh sprang to his feet, his eyes ablaze, his voice hoarse and shaking.
“Don’t tempt me! Do you think I’ve found it easy to decide on this? When every fibre of my body is calling out for you? My God, no!”
“Then don’t do it! Hugh—dearest—”
With sudden violence he caught her by the arms.
“Be silent, I tell you! Don’t tempt me! I’ll make my penance, accept the burden laid on me—that my first-born should be a girl!”
Diane clung to him, resisting his attempt to thrust her from him.
“Hugh! Ah, wait! Listen to me! . . . Dear, some day there may be a little son, yours and mine—”
He flung her from him violently.
“There shall never be a son of ours! Never! It is the Will of God.”
With an immense effort he checked the rising frenzy within him—the ecstasy of the martyr embracing the stake to which he shall be bound. He moved across to the door and held it open for her.
“And now, will you please go? That is my last word on the matter.”
Diane turned hesitatingly towards the doorway, then paused.
There was an infinite appeal in her voice. Her eyes were those of a frightened, bewildered child.
“Go, please,” he repeated mechanically.
A convulsive sob tore its way through her throat. She stepped blindly forward. The next moment the door closed inexorably between husband and wife.
SAINT-MICHAEL AND THE WONDER-CHILD
Day by day her husband’s complete estrangement from her was rendered additionally bitter to Diane by Catherine’s complacent air of triumph. The latter knew that she had won, severed the tie which bound her brother to “the foreign dancing-woman,” and she did not scruple to let Diane see that she openly rejoiced in the fact.
At first Diane imagined that Catherine might rest content with what she had accomplished, but the grim, hard-featured woman still continued to exhibit the same self-righteous disapproval towards her brother’s wife as hitherto.
Diane endured it in resentful silence for a time, but one day, stung by some more than usually acid speech of Catherine’s, she turned on her, demanding passionately why she seemed to hate her even more since the birth of the child.