She paused a moment.
“Enough of what?” she said. “What have you had enough of? Of me and your children? It’s a nice manly thing to say. Haven’t I loved you? Haven’t I loved you for twelve years, and worked and slaved for you and tried to keep you right? Heaven knows where you’d have been but for me, evil as you are at the bottom. You’re evil, that’s what it is—and weak. You’re too weak to love a woman and give her what she wants: too weak. Unmanly and cowardly, he runs away.”
“No wonder,” he said.
“No,” she cried. “It IS no wonder, with a nature like yours: weak and unnatural and evil. It IS no wonder.”
She became quiet—and then started to cry again, into her apron. Aaron waited. He felt physically weak.
“And who knows what you’ve been doing all these months?” she wept. “Who knows all the vile things you’ve been doing? And you’re the father of my children—the father of my little girls—and who knows what vile things he’s guilty of, all these months?”
“I shouldn’t let my imagination run away with me,” he answered. “I’ve been playing the flute in the orchestra of one of the theatres in London.”
“Ha!” she cried. “It’s more than that. Don’t think I’m going to believe you. I know you, with your smooth-sounding lies. You’re a liar, as you know. And I know you’ve been doing other things besides play a flute in an orchestra. You!—as if I don’t know you. And then coming crawling back to me with your lies and your pretense. Don’t think I’m taken in.”
“I should be sorry,” he said.
“Coming crawling back to me, and expecting to be forgiven,” she went on. “But no—I don’t forgive—and I can’t forgive—never—not as long as I live shall I forgive what you’ve done to me.”
“You can wait till you’re asked, anyhow,” he said.
“And you can wait,” she said. “And you shall wait.” She took up her sewing, and stitched steadily, as if calmly. Anyone glancing in would have imagined a quiet domestic hearth at that moment. He, too, feeling physically weak, remained silent, feeling his soul absent from the scene.
Again she suddenly burst into tears, weeping bitterly.
“And the children,” she sobbed, rocking herself with grief and chagrin. “What have I been able to say to the children—what have I been able to tell them?”
“What HAVE you told them?” he asked coldly.
“I told them you’d gone away to work,” she sobbed, laying her head on her arms on the table. “What else could I tell them? I couldn’t tell them the vile truth about their father. I couldn’t tell THEM how evil you are.” She sobbed and moaned.
He wondered what exactly the vile truth would have been, had she started to tell it. And he began to feel, coldly and cynically, that among all her distress there was a luxuriating in the violent emotions of the scene in hand, and the situation altogether.