“Well, then, supposing them to possess these supernatural powers; do you think it’s to people of that kind that I’ll ever consent to give you up?”
She raised a half-smiling glance of protest. “Oh, they’re not wantonly wicked. They’ll leave me alone as long as—”
“As I do?” he interrupted. “Do you want me to leave you alone? Was that what you brought me here to tell me?”
The directness of the challenge seemed to gather up the scattered strands of her hesitation, and lifting her head she turned on him a look in which, but for its underlying shadow, he might have recovered the full free beam of Fanny Frisbee’s gaze.
“I don’t know why I brought you here,” she said gently, “except from the wish to prolong a little the illusion of being once more an American among Americans. Just now, sitting there with your mother and Katy and Nannie, the difficulties seemed to vanish; the problems grew as trivial to me as they are to you. And I wanted them to remain so a little longer; I wanted to put off going back to them. But it was of no use—they were waiting for me here. They are over there now in that house across the river.” She indicated the grey sky-line of the Faubourg, shining in the splintered radiance of the sunset beyond the long sweep of the quays. “They are a part of me—I belong to them. I must go back to them!” she sighed.
She rose slowly to her feet, as though her metaphor had expressed an actual fact and she felt herself bodily drawn from his side by the influences of which she spoke.
Durham had risen too. “Then I go back with you!” he exclaimed energetically; and as she paused, wavering a little under the shock of his resolve: “I don’t mean into your house—but into your life!” he said.
She suffered him, at any rate, to accompany her to the door of the house, and allowed their debate to prolong itself through the almost monastic quiet of the quarter which led thither. On the way, he succeeded in wresting from her the confession that, if it were possible to ascertain in advance that her husband’s family would not oppose her action, she might decide to apply for a divorce. Short of a positive assurance on this point, she made it clear that she would never move in the matter; there must be no scandal, no retentissement, nothing which her boy, necessarily brought up in the French tradition of scrupulously preserved appearances, could afterward regard as the faintest blur on his much-quartered escutcheon. But even this partial concession again raised fresh obstacles; for there seemed to be no one to whom she could entrust so delicate an investigation, and to apply directly to the Marquis de Malrive or his relatives appeared, in the light of her past experience, the last way of learning their intentions.
“But,” Durham objected, beginning to suspect a morbid fixity of idea in her perpetual attitude of distrust—“but surely you have told me that your husband’s sister—what is her name? Madame de Treymes?—was the most powerful member of the group, and that she has always been on your side.”