“I claim nothing more than your own theories have always granted.”
“Then practice shows that the theories are untenable, as in many another case.”
“You refuse me the right to think for myself.”
“In some things, yes. Because, as I said before, you haven’t experience enough to go upon.”
Cecily cast down her eyes. She forced herself to keep silence until that rush of indignant rebellion had gone by. Reuben looked at her askance.
“If you still loved me as you once did,” he said, in a lower voice, “this would be no hardship. Indeed, I should never have had to utter such words.”
“I still do love you,” she answered, very quietly. “If I did not, I should revolt against your claim. But it is too certain that we no longer live on the old terms.”
They avoided each other’s eyes, and after a long silence left the room without again speaking.
THE DENYERS IN ENGLAND
“There!” said Mrs. Denyer, laying money on the table. “There are your wages, up to the end of April—notwithstanding your impertinence to me this morning, you see. Once more I forgive you. And new get on with your work, and let us have no more unpleasantness.”
It was in the back parlour of a small house at Hampstead, a room scantily furnished and not remarkably clean. Mrs. Denyer sat at the table, some loose papers before her. She was in mourning, but still fresh of complexion, and a trifle stouter than when she lived at Naples, two years and a half ago. Her words were addressed to a domestic (most plainly, of all work), who without ceremony gathered the coins up in both her hands, counted them, and then said with decision:
“Now I’m goin’, mum.”
“Going? Indeed you are not, my girl! You don’t leave this house without the due notice.”
“Notice or no notice, I’m a-goin’,” said the other, firmly. “I never thought to a’ got even this much, an’ now I’ve got it, I’m a-goin’. It’s wore me out, has this ’ouse; what with—”
The conflict lasted for a good quarter of an hour, but the domestic was to be shaken neither with threats nor prayers. Resolutely did she ascend to her bedroom, promptly did she pack her box. Almost before Mrs. Denyer could realize the disaster that had befallen, her house was servantless.
She again sat in the back parlour, gazing blankly at the table, when there came the sound of the house-door opening, followed by a light tread in the passage.
“Barbara!” called Mrs. Denyer.
Barbara presented herself. She also wore mourning, genteel but inexpensive. Her prettiness endured, but she was pale, and had a chronic look of discontent.
“Well, now, what do you think has happened? Shut the door. I paid Charlotte the wages, and the very first thing she did was to pack and go!”
“And you mean to say you let her? Why, you must be crazy!”