“Yes, they’ve gone out. I don’t know what the business world is coming to. Why, the brick-layer gets—I don’t say earns—more than the average clerk. And Bennington’s men go out simply because he refuses to discharge that young English inventor. ... What are you writing and tearing up so often?” he asked, his curiosity suddenly aroused.
“It is a difficult letter to write.”
“Then there can’t be any gossip in it.”
“I never concern myself with gossip, Franklyn. I wish I could make you understand that.”
“I wish you could, too.” He laid his paper down. “Well, I’m off to the club, unless you are particularly in need of me.”
“You are always going to the club.”
“Or coming back.”
“Yes, I know. But the men I play poker with are too much interested in the draw to talk about other men’s wives.”
“It’s the talk of the town the way you men play cards.”
“Better the purse than the reputation.”
“I haven’t any doubt that you are doing your best to deplete both,” coldly.
Then she sighed profoundly. This man was a great disappointment to her. He did not understand her at all. The truth was, if she but knew it, he understood her only too well. She had married the handsomest man in town because all the other belles had been after him; he had married money, after a fashion. Such mistakes are frequent rather than singular these days. The two had nothing in common. It is strange that persons never find this out till after the honeymoon. Truly, marriage is a voyage of discovery for which there are no relief expeditions.
So Haldene went to the club, while his wife squared another sheet of writing-paper and began again. Half an hour went by before she completed her work with any degree of satisfaction. Even then she had some doubts. She then took a pair of shears and snipped the crest from the sheet and sealed it in a government envelope. Next she threw a light wrap over her shoulders and stole down to the first letter-box, where she deposited the trifle. The falling of the lid broke sharply on the still night. She returned to the house, feeling that a great responsibility had been shifted from hers to another’s shoulders. Indeed, she would have gone to any lengths to save Patty a life of misery. And to think of that woman! To think of her assuming a quasi-leadership in society, as if she were to the manner born! The impudence of it all! Poor Mrs. Bennington, with her grey hairs; it would break her heart when she found out (as Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene determined she should) the sort of woman her son had married. She straightened her shoulders and pressed her lips firmly and contemplated a duty, painfully but rigorously performed. She cast the scraps of paper into the grate and applied a match. It is not always well that duty should leave any circumstantial evidence behind.